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(CU88 Of 1830) 

**For books relating to Politics and Fine Arts. 










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In submitting to the public the chapters des- 
tmed for the second volume of the Materials 
for a History of Oil Painting^ which Sir Charles 
Eastlake left in a state of preparation, Lady Eastlake 
is anxious to state how &r she has presumed to 
exercise the office of editor in the revision of them. 
It win not be necessary to assure those readers 
already acquainted with Sir Charles's habits of con- 
scientious accuracy and patient research that such 
habits are as vividly impressed on these chapters as 
on all that have gone before. Owing, however, to 
the labours of Signor Cavalcaselle,* which were 
greatly assisted and promoted by Sir Charles, in- 

* A new History of Painting in Italy, by J. A. Crowe 
and G. B. Cavalcaselle (1864), authors of the Early Flemish 


formation has been brought to light proving the 
falsity of certain long-admitted passages in the his- 
tory of Oil Painting, without, for the present, sub- 
stituting any certain facts in their place. This 
information aflPects the first only of the chapters 
now presented — a portion of which has, accordingly, 
been suppressed. The contents of this chapter espe- 
cially turned upon the formerly ficqepted statement 
that a chapel in S. Maria Nuova at Florence, which 
belonged to a wealthy family of the name of Por- 
tinari, had served as a kind of nursery of the art of 
oil painting in central Italy. It is known, namely, 
that a picture by Memling, and a triptych by Hugo 
Van der Goes — ^both in oil — ^were painted for this 
Portinari chapel (also called the chapel of S. Egidio 
and the Cappella Maggiore) ; the triptych by Hugo 
Van der Goes being still in its place. Vasari also 
states that Andrea dal Castagno and Domenico 
Veneziano executed certain paintings on the walls 
of the same chapel in oil. These paintings, which, 
according to Vasari, illustrated the Life of the 
Madonna, have long since disappeared, and, with 
them, all certain evidence of the method of their 
execution ; from the light now obtained, however, it 
has become doubtful, perhaps more than doubtful, 
whether any of the series w^re executed by the 
process implied by the modem term "oil paint^ 


ing." The records of the Hos^Htal of S. Maria 
Nuova, it is true, show that linseed oil was abiin- 
daatly famished to Domenico Veneziano during 
the period of his labours; but this proves nothing 
more than a use of that vehicle which Sir Charles 
Eastlake, in his first volume*— chapters iii. and iv. 
especially — ^has shown to have been, long before the 
invention of oil painting, common in processes 
of wall-painting. And this doubt gains further 
strength from the fistct that Signor Cavalcaselle's 
researches furnish so complete a contradiction to 
some of Vasari's statements regarding Domenico 
Yeneziano and Andrea dal Castagno, as, in great 
measure, to invalidate all of them. Not only does 
it appear that Domenico Yeneziano could not have 
learned the secret of oil painting at Yenice from 
Antonello da Messina, as circumstantially asserted 
by Yasari (even granting that he ever was in 
Venice, or ever learnt the secret at all), but it is 
proved that the crowning act of the romance, 
which has so long outraged the feelings of Yasari's 
readers^ and of which the possession of this secret 
is giv^n as the plausible motive, is as untrue as all 
the rest. It is now known, by incontrovertible 
documents, that Andrea dal Castagno died in 1457, 
some years before the alleged murder of his sup- 
posed friend and benefactor, and that Domenico 


Veneziano survived him four years. The state- 
ment also of the rivahy of these two pidnters — as 
far, at least, as their supposed simultaneous opera- 
tions in the Portinari chapel gave it the colour of 
truth — ^is equally overturned by Signor Cavalca- 
selle, who quotes from the records of the hospital 
attached to S. Maria Nuova, that Domenico ter- 
minated his six years' labours in the chapel in 
1445, and that Andrea only commenced his in 
1451. For all trustworthy information regarding 
these two piunters the reader is referred to Signor 
Cavalcaselle's work, vol. ii. pp. 302-318. 

As regards therefore the importance of Domenico 
Veneziano and Andrea dal Gastagno as links in the 
generations of oil painters, they may be dismissed 
from the scene. Still, it is justice to Sir Charles 
Eastlake to state that his personal observations 
and complete possession of all other sources of 
information perpetually led him into modest anta- 
gonism with one who, both in style of painting 
and habits of mind, waa perhaps a character as 
strongly opposed to his own as history could fur- 
nish. Many parts of the first volume of the 
Materials bear witness to Sir Charles's convic- 
tion of some of Vasari's errors, and to his suspicion 
of others. As regards Vasari's statement that 
Antonello da Messina was the first to conmiunicate 


the Flemish method of oil painting in Italy, the 
reader is referred to p. 217 of the first volume, in 
which Sir Charles shows that many Flemish artists 
— scholars or followers of Van Eyck — were in Italy 
and executed works there, about the middle of the 
fifteenth century. In such portions also of this first 
chapter of the second volume as Lady Eastlake has 
ventured to suppress, the difficulty of reconciling 
Yasari's most circumstantial and positively asserted 
tale with Sir Charles's own accurate knowledge 
is throughout apparent. It did not escape Sir 
Charles's observation that while Domenico Vene- 
ziano was asserted by Vasari to be the chief practiser 
of the new art in Florence, the only two works re- 
maining by his handy there or elsewhere, are neither 
of them in oil. The one, the Virgin and Child 
enthroned, with the figure of the First Person of 
the Trinity above,* and two heads of saints below,t 
which till lately occupied the Canto de' Carnesecchi 
at Florence, is in fresco : the other, an altar-piece 
in S. Lucia de' Bardi in Florence, signed by the 
painter, and which Sir Charles, on more than one 
occasion, closely inspected, is in tempera.^ He 

* This portion is now in the possession of Prince Pio at 

f These two heads have passed from the collection of 
Sir Charles Eastlake into the JSational Gallery. 

X The picture is engraved in Bosini, No. 42. 


thus describes it from notes taken on the spot : — 
"The picture is in the church of S. Lucia de' 
Bardi^ and represents the Madonna and Child 
enthroned under Italian-Gothic architecture; two 
saints stand on each side. On the first step of the 
throne is the inscription *Opus Dominici de Vene- 

tiis. Ho Mater Dei^ miserere mei Datum 

est/ Of this work Rumohr observes that the 
f^xpression of the female saint is not unworthy of 
Angelico da Fiesole.* The Madonna and Child 
are very agreeably composed, the coloured pave- 
ment and architecture are in the Venetian taste, and 
from the effect of modem vamishings the picture 
has a warm tone which gives it a resemblance (but 
it is only a resemblance) to a work in oil."f 

But though the part assigned to these two 
painters in the first chapter by Sir Charles-— and 
always with the utmost difficulty in reconciling 
facts which he knew to be true, with others which 
he had then no grounds to dismiss as false — ^is thus 
necessarily set aside, yet Sh' Charles's great interest 
in the Portinari family as patrons of the new art 
does not, on that account, lack due foundation. In 
the mercantile transactions of the Portinari in the 

* Italianische Forschungen, vol. ii. p. 262. 
t £. Forstcr (Eunst-Blatt, p. 67, 1830) calls it an oil pic- 
ture ; it is now univorsuily acknowledged to be in tempera. 


fifteenth century, as partners of the Medici, and 
agents for them in foreign parts, which probably 
led to their taste for the newly-practised Northern 
art — ^in their employment of Memling and Hugo 
Van der Goes for the decorations of the family 
chapel — and in the possible influence of those 
pictures in Florence at that period — ^Lady Eastlake 
has seen sufficient grounds for retaining a page 
of family history which is interwoven with the 
palmiest days of Florentine art. and prosperity. 

With the exception of the omission, thus ex- 
plained, of part of the first chapter, no alteration 
has been required in the portion now presented 
to the public. 

It may be added that the edition of Vasari re- 
ferred to throughout is that of Florence, 1832-8. 

December 1868. 




Folco Portinari and his Descendants — ^Hospital of S. 
Maria Nuova — ^Ancient Florentine Academj of 
Painters— Antonello da Messina— The Pollaiuoli 1 
Note on Two Copies of an Inedited Manuscript bj 
Antonio Filarete - - - - - 21 

CHAP. n. 

Becapitnlation of Characteristics of Earlj Flemish 
School — The Varnish of Tempera Pictures — ^Im- 
provements by Van Eyck — Mixture of Varnish 
with Colours— Methods of Painting - - 26 


Lorenso di Credi — ^Leonardo da Vinci — ^Pietro Pern- 

gino— Francesco Francia - - - - 78 


Raphael — Fra Bartolommeo — Mariotto Albertinelli — 
Bidolfo Ghirlandajo — Oranacci — Bugiardini — 
Andrea del Sarto - - - - - 152 

Correggio 209 


Venetian Methods 272 

Note by Editor 297 




Colour, Light, Shade, Correggio, &c. - - . 298 

Necessity for Definitions - - - - 314 

Negative Lights and Shades .... 816 

Natural Harmonies - - - - -318 

Natural Contrasts - - - - - 321 

Finish - - - - - - - 323 

Space - - - - - - - 323 

Effect * - - - - - - 326 

Chiaroscuro Prep«ratioD8.-^Their Effect^ duly managed, 

of producing Depth and Hichness - - - 327 

Chiaroscuro Preparations. — Transparent Brown - 330 

Depth of Light Tints - - - - - 332 

Warm Shadows - ... - 333 

Treatment of Green and Blue - - - - 334 

Oiling out - - - - - - 339 

Vehicle for Shadows - - - - - 342 

Transparent Painting ----- 349 

Depth. — Transparent Medium - - - - 353 

Cool Lights on Bed - - - - - 354 

Oil Painting - - - - - - 856 

Macchia * - - - - - - 355 

Venetian Process - - - - - 357 

Bellini thinned his Vehicle with Linseed Oil - - 358 

Warm Outlines and Shadows - - . . 359 

Neutral Tints in White and other Draperies - • 361 

Toning, to mitigate Partial or General Crudeness .. 362 

Texture. — Contrast of Surface in Scumhling • - 364 

Scumbling and Retouching . - . . 365 

Crispness and Sharpness before Toning - - 366 

Glazing System ----- 370 

Life in Inanimate Things .... 373 

Palette Knife - - - - - - 375 

The Gem-like Quality - - - - - 378 



FacUity of Execution - - - - - 381 

Remedies - - - - - - 388 

How to Compose and Faint a Single Head - - 390 

On Subjects for Painting ... - 401 

Means and End of Art - ... 407 

Index .--... 413 






The name of Portinari is connected both with the 
history of Italian poetry and ItaUan art. About 
the year 1285, Folco Portinari, the father of Dante's 
Beatrice, founded the hospital of S. Maria Nuova 
in Florence, and employed Cimabue to paint a 
Madonna for its chapel.* More than a century 
and a half later a member of the same family, Folco 
di Adoardo Portinari f, commissioned Domenico 

* Richa, Notizie Istoriche delle Chiese Florentine. Firenze, 
1754-1762, vol. viii. pp. 175, 190. The hospital of S. Maria 
Nuova is not to be confounded with the church and convent 
of S. Maria Novella. 

f The elder line of the Portinari, from the end of the thii*- 
teenth to the beginning of the sixteenth century, is as fol- 
lows : — Folco di Ricovero, founder of the hospital, died in 1289 ; 

Manetto; Giovanni; Adoardo; Folco < ^® * * . 

I Tommaso ; Antonio. 



Veneziano and Andrea dal Castagno to decorate the 
Portinari chapel in the church of S. Maria Nuova, 
and to these works were added some Flemish ex- 
amples of the new art of oil painting, among 
which are especially mentioned a small picture 
by Memling and a triptych by Hugo Van der 

The ancient Florentine Academy of Painters, 
dating from the time of Giotto, held its first sittings 
in S. Maria Nuova — ^an event commemorated in 
the sixteenth century by the presentation, on the 
part of the Academy, to the same chapel, of an 
altar-piece by Alessandro Allori.f The early con- 
nection of the painters with this institution is partly 
accounted for by their having been at first included 
in the same " arte " or guild with the physicians. J 
About the year 1420 the original chapel of the 
hospital was enlarged by Lorenzo di Bicci, who, 
painter as well as architect, adorned the fa9ade 
with two frescoes representing the consecration of 

♦ Yasariy Introduzione, c. 21 ; and his noticej Di diversi 
Artisti Fiamminghi, It may be necessary to repeat that 
Ausse, or Hausse, is Yasari's misprint for Hansse, or Hans 
(Memling), whom he clearly designates as the scholar of Boger 
of Bruges. Yasari, Vita di Antonello da Messina ; compare 
Baldinucci, vol. v. p. 411 ; De Bast, in the Kunst-Blatt^ 1826, 
p. 321, note ; and Passavant, ib. 1843, p. 257. On the works 
of Memling and Hugo Yan der Goes for the Portinari, see 
Passavant, ib. 1841, pp. 18, 33, 251 ; and 1843, p. 258. 

f Richa, Notizie, &c., vol. viii. p. 191. 

% See the Florence edition of Yasari, 1832-1838, p. 316, 
note 13. 


the new edifice by Pope Martin V.* Of other 
paintings executed in various parts of the vast 
establishment, some may be noticed hereafter. 

The pious and charitable intentions of the 
founder were carried out by his descendants with 
equal zeal, and the excellent management of the 
institution recommended it far and near. When 
Martin V. entered the cemetery where the bones 
were exhibited to view piled around, he knelt at 
the threshold, and, taking up a handful of dust, 
pronounced the promise of as many indulgences as 
there were atoms of mortality in his grasp to all 
who should there pray for the souls of the departed, 
and to all who might die within the precincts of 
the afiylum.f The last benediction had a powerful 
influence on the prosperity of the institution. To 
superannuated painters were now added persons of 
rank from various parts of Italy and Europe, till 
S. Maria Nuova almost became to Christendom 
what the Valley of Jehoshaphat still is to the 
Hebrew world. The fame of a hospital which 
was long considered a model for general imitation 
attracted the attention of Henry VIII. of England, 
for whom a full description of the institution and 
its regulations was prepared in 1524 by a Fran- 
cesco Portinari, who, it appears, was about this 

• Richa, Notizie, &c. ; ib. p. 197. Vasari, Vita di Lorenzo 
di Bicci. One of the frescoes is engraved in the Etruria 
Pittrice, PI. XV. • 

t lb. p. 194. 

B 2 


time ambassador from the republic of Florence to 
the English monaixh.* It remains to observe that 
the accidental connection which existed between 
this foundation and the revival and perfection of 
painting was confirmed by important advantages 
affecting the practice of that art. Attached to a 
chapel where the dead were first deposited was a 
hall for the study of anatomy, to which was subse- 
quently added a theatre for lectures. The chemical 
department, again, comprehended an ample dis- 
pensary, underneath which, in extensive vaults, 
distillations and other opemtions requiring the use 
of fire were carried on ; the whole being under the 
superintendence of experienced professors.f 

Such was S. Maria Nuova. The Pollaiuoli, 
Leonardo da Vinci, and Michael Angelo may there 
have become familiar with dissections and with 
the structure of the skeleton; there the Florentine 
painters could trace back the traditions of Italian 
art from the time when Byzantine trammels were 
first cast aside ; and there they could procure cer- 
tmn materials essential to the practice of the new 
art prepared in the best manner by chemists who 
took an interest in their pursuit. . 

If the institution which has been described might 
thus, for many reasons, be called the cradle of 
Italian art, it was also, in a more literal sense, the 

* Richa, Notizie, &c., pp. 184, 218, The ambassador is also 
called Pier Francesco Portinari. 
t lb. pp. 208, 209. 


chosen place of rest of the artists. Many an aged 
professor sought peace within its walls, to quit 
them no more ; and many a convalescent left its 
precincts with reluctance. Vasari relates that when 
the friends of Nanni Grosso, a sculptor, visited him 
in S. Maria Nuova after his recovery, and inquired 
after his health, he replied, " I am not well. I am 
in want of a little fever; I should then have an 
excuse for remaining where I have had every com- 
fort." An example is afterwards given of the kind 
of comfort which this artist required. During his 
last illness, when he was again an inmate of the 
hospital, an ill-formed crucifix was brought to him ; 
the dying sculptor turned from it with pain, and 
entreated that a better work of the kind by Dona- 
tello might be placed before his eyes.* 

With regard to the early oil paintings with which 
the principal chapel was decorated, it is not known 
whether the picture by Memling was painted in Italy 
(which the artist may have visited with his master, 
Roger of Bruges, in 1450), or whether it was 
afterwards transmitted from Flanders : that it was 
painted for the Portinari there is no doubt. The 
triptych by Hugo Van der Goes, or, as Vasari calls 
him, Ugo d'Anversa, was probably painted about 
twenty years later. That work, which is still in 
the chapel, may be at once described. 

The main picture, now separated from the wings, 
hangs on the wall left of the door on entering : the 

♦ Vasari, Vita di Andrea Verrocchio. 


two wings hang on the opposite side. The subject 
of the principal picture is the Nativity : angels 
hover over the scene, and one of them, in shadow, 
is lighted by the splendour from the Infant ; so 
early was this idea—often supposed to be an inven- 
tion of Correggio — customary in the treatment of 
the subject.* Other angels stand around, singing 
the " Sanctus," which is inscribed on the hem of 
the robes of two who are kneeling. The adoring 
shepherds are remarkable for their vivid indivi- 
duality and the earnestness of their expression. In 
the foreground is a vase of flowers, in the taste of 
Van Eyck. Of the wings or doors, one exhibits a 
member of the Portinari family and his two sons, 
for whom St. Anthony and an Apostle — either 
St. Matthias or St. Thomas (as he holds a lance) — 
intercede } the other wing represents the wife of 
Portinari and her daughter, introduced by St. 
Margaret and Mary Magdalene.f 

* The apocryphal sources appear to have been the Protevan- 
gelion and the Evang. Infanti». 

f A portrait, by some writers supposed to represent Folco 
Portinari, but which bears the arms of the Bandini family, 
was a few years since in the Fitti Gallery (Passavaut, Kunsi" 
Biatty 1841, p. 18 ; Beumont, t6. 172) ; it is now in the 
Gallery of the Uffizj. On the back, painted in chiaroscuro, is 
the Angel of the Annunciation. The companion portrait of 
the wife certainly resembles the lady in the altar-piece of Hugo 
Van der Groes above described, except that there she is repre- 
sented younger ; on the back is seen a chiaroscuro Madonna, 
completing the subject of the Annunciation. This work has 
been attributed to Van der Goes ; but the portraits, which 


Various writers, including Richa, have ascribed 
these pictures sometimes to Domenico Veneziano, 
sometimes to Andrea dal Castagno, forgetting (to 
say nothing of the internal evidence of the art) 
that those artists painted on the walls of the chapel, 
and that their works there have long since perished. 
In consequence of this mistake, the subject has been 
wrongly described, and the personages who, accord- 
ing to Vasari, were introduced in the wall-pictures, 
have been transferred to these. Even some modem 
critics, who have been well aware that the existing 
work is by Hugo Van der Goes, " che fe' la tavola 
di S. Maria Nuova,"* have inadvertently followed 
the remaining part of Richa's blunder by assuming 
that the figure of the donor represents Folco Porti- 
nari. It will appear, as we proceed, that the por- 
trait is much more probably that of Tommaso de' 
Portinari, a son of Folco, who was more than once 
in Bruges in the latter half of the fifteenth century, 
and whose name may be referred to by the intro- 
duction of St. Thomas the Apostle. The portraits all 
appear to be taken firom the life, but whether the work 
was executed in Italy or in Flanders is uncertain. 

The small picture by Memling above noticed is 
twice mentioned by Vasari, who intimates that sub- 
sequently to its being placed in the Portinari chapel 
it became the property of Cosmo de' Medici ; he also 

are strikingly defective in proportion, are inferior to the gene- 
rality of his productions. 

* Vasari, Introdazione, c. 21, p. 42. 


informs us that it represented the Passion.* Such 
a subject often comprehended various scenes, and 
hence it is not improbable that a picture by Mem- 
ling answering this description, and which is now 
in the Gallery at Turin, is the identical work exe- 
cuted for the Portinari.f No subject of the kind, 
by the artist, is known to exist in Florence. 

The commercial enterprises of the Portinari are 
not to be overlooked in noticing their encourage- 
ment of painters who followed or adopted the 
method of Van Eyck. A manuscript chronicle 
compiled by a descendant of the family about the 
year 1700 is preserved in the Riccardian library at 
Florence. From these records it appears that 
during the fifteenth century the Portinari were 
first the partners, then the agents, of the Medici 
in various parts of Italy and in other countries. 
For example, commercial transactions were con- 
ducted in Venice by a Giovanni Portinari and a 
Giovanni de' Medici (probably the father of Cosmo) 
so early as 1406. In 1448 Pigello, the son of Folco 
d' Adoardo Portinari, superintended, with his part- 
ners, the aflBirs of Cosmo de' Medici in that city, 
and appears to have resided there some years. 

Ten years later we find the same Pigello acting, 
apparently alone, in a similar capacity at Milan, 
where he ultimately settled with his family, and 

• Vasari, Introduzione, and the notice, Di diversi Artisti 

t Passavant, Kunst-Blatf, 1843, p. 258. 


where he died in 1468. In 1470 and later, others 

of the house trafficked in Flanders and the North.* 

* The writer of the Chronicle containing these details was 
Foico Antonio Maria Portinari, a priest. The MS. is num- 
bered 1884 in the Riccardian library ; it was first noticed by 
Mr. Seymour Kirkup, to whom the author is indebted for the 
following extfacts : — 

" 1406. Giovanni Portinari faceva negozio in Venezia con 
Matteo Tanagli e Giovanni de' Medici. 

" 1448. Pigello di Folco d'Adoardo Portinari con Alessandro 
Martelli e Francesco di Daviti regent! in Venezia la com- 
pagnia de' Medici/' &c. 

" 1458. II sudetto Pigello governava il banco e la ragione in 
Milano di Cosimo de' Medici." (Vasari, in his life of Michelozzi, 
a Florentine sculptor and architect, speaks of the palace at 
Milan, which Francesco Sforza presented to Cosmo de' Medici, 
and adds : ** It appears that the sums which Cosmo spent in 
the restoration of this palace were furnished by Pigello Porti- 
nari, a citizen of Florence, who at that time was at the head 
of the bank and commercial establishment of Cosmo in Milan, 
and who himself dwelt in the said palace." Respecting the 
chapel which Pigello built at Milan at his own cost, see 
Richa^ Notizie, &c., vol. viiL p. 185.) 

" 1460. Giovanni d' Adoardo Portinari fece negozio in Mi- 
lano con Fiero di Giovanni di Cosimo de* Medici. 

" 1470. Folco di Pigello di Folco Portinari con Tommaso di 
Folco Portinari, descritti mercanti famosi e segnalati, negozia- 
vano a Lione in Francia, e la ragione diceva ancora colla fami- 
glia dell' Antella e Ghicci, e tenevano p factor! Matteo Ghicci, 
uno deir Antella, uno de' Boni, e Zanobi da Scarperia; nel 
quale anno pure negoziavano p la Fiandra, Inghilterra, Olanda, 
Zelanda, e Scozia, Giovanni d' Adoardo Portinari e Benedetto 

<' 1480. Tommaso di Folco Portinari fece negozio in Bruggia 
di Fiandra con Lorenzo de' Medici. 

" 1480. Tommaso di Folco Portinari fece negozio in Londra 
con Alessandro d' Adoardo Portinari e Tommaso Guidotti. 

*^ Bernardo d' Adoardo Portinari fece negozio di pannini et 
altro nella citta di Lione in Francia. 


These data are not unimportant, as serving to ex- 
plain the introduction of oU painting into Florence. 
Pigello Portinari must have been in Venice when 
Antonello da Messina dwelt for a time in that city 
on his return from Flanders. 

Again, we find that Antonello, during his long 
absence from Venice, dwelt for a time in Milan. 
Whatever may have led him to visit that city (per- 
haps the accident merely of its being in his road 
from Venice to Genoa, the most convenient port 
whence he could embark for Messina), it is highly 
probable that he owed to Pigello Portinari the 
attentions which he received there, and which in- 
duced him to prolong his stay.* Lastly, the sub- 

*^ 1484. Detto negoziava pure in Bruggia. 

" 1488. Folco [di Pigello di Folco] Portinari face negozio di 
pannini et altro in Bruggia di Fiandra con Tommaso di Folco 

From other passages it also appears that the Medici and 
Portinari had still a joint establishment in Venice late in the 
fifteenth century. 

* According to Vasari, in his Vita cT Antonio FilaretCy quoting 
from a MS. by that sculptor and architect, which is now in 
the Magliabechian library at Florence, Pigello Portinari deco- 
rated the palace at Milan, mentioned in a former note, with 
various paintings, including portraits. The artists, with the 
exception of Michelozzi and Yincenzo Foppa, are not named ; 
but this edifice, together with Pige]lo*s sumptuous chapel of 
S. Pietro Martire at S. Eustorgio, and the Albergo de* Poveri, 
built by Francesco Sforza, all which were adorned with paint- 
ings and altar-pieces, offered abundant opportunities for the 
employment of the artists then at Milan. The following pas- 
sage in Filarete's MS. relating to the palace justifies Vasari's 
general statement : — " Ancora V entrata d' essa h degnissima, et 


sequent employment of Hugo Van der Goes on a 
work to be placed in the Portinari chapel at Florence 
may be explained by the commercial relations of 
this same family, chiefly represented by Tommaso 
de' Portinari, with Flanders, about the time when 
Van der Goes was in the zenith of his reputation. 

The earliest Italian oil painters now invite our 

Respecting their first teacher, Antonello da Mes- 
sina, there is Uttle to add to the account already 
given. Since the publication of the first volume of 
this work, however, an important date has come to 
light. It is now certain that John Van Eyck died 
in 1441:* at that time Antonello was probably 
about twenty-seven years of age, and the period 

maggionnente quando sar^ dipinta nel modo che gik ragionammo 
insieme con Plgello Portinari, haomo degnio et dabene, ei 
quale ivi reggia e guida tutto el traffico che anno a Milano ; 
col quale ebbi ragionamento di quelio che dipingere s' aveva." 
See the note at the end of this chapter. 

* See the interesting documents in the pamphlet entitled 
Les trois Freres Van Eyck^ par TAbb^ Carton. Bruges, 1848. 
On the Abba's mistake respecting the date of Antonello da 
Messina's birth, see Dr. Waagen, Kunst-BlcUi, 1849, p. 62. 
With reference to the date of Van Eyck's death, it is to be 
observed that as Alphonso of Arragon expelled Ben6 of Anjou 
from Naples in 1442, it follows that the picture bj Van Ejck, 
which, according to Yasari, induced Antonello to visit Flan- 
ders, must have been seen bj him before Alphonso possessed 
it ; and hence the conjecture of De Bast {Kunst-Blatty 1826, 
p. 333, note) that the painting in question was originallj sent 
to King Ren4 and was seen by Antonello while it was in that 
monarch's possession, is well founded. 




of his visit to Flanders is, in some measure, de- 
fined. A portrait by him, in the Berlin Gallery, 
has the date 1445 ; and as there is some reason to 
believe that it was painted in Italy, the artist may 
have quitted Flanders for Venice in 1444. As yet 
there is no ground, save the questionable evidence 
of this portrait, to conclude that Antonello re- 
turned to Italy so early;* but assuming such to 
be the case, his first residence in Venice must have 
been of long duration. There is nothing impro- 
bable in this, as he must have passed a consider- 
able number of years either in Venice during his 
first stay there, or in Milan . That during those 
years he was occupied with his art we cannot 
doubt, but it is remarkable that, except the por- 
trait referred to, no picture by AntoneUo has been 
hitherto noticed with an earlier date than 1470 f : 
according to a Sicilian writer, an Ecce Homo, 
formerly at Palermo, was so inscribed. J The com- 
piler of the " Memorie de' Pittori Messinesi," 

* The doubtful evidence alluded to is the fact that the por- 
trait is painted on chestnut- wood, a material not commonly 
used for such purposes in the North : the authenticity of the 
picture has never been called in question. According to a 
Flemish MS., quoted by De Bast {Kunst-Blatt, 1826, p. 389), 
Antonello remained some years in Flanders after Van Eyck's 

t The date on Antonello's picture of the Crucifixion, in the 
Gallery at Antwerp, is now universally acknowledged to be 

% Vincenzo Aurio, quoted by the author of the Memorie de' 
PiUori Messinesi. In Messina, 1821, p. 16. 


published also the "Guida per la CittA di Mes- 
sina." * In that compendium, when speaking of 
the church of S. Gregorio at Messina, the writer 
describes a picture of the Virgin and Child by 
Antonello inscribed with the artist's name and 
the date 1473 :f hence he infers that Antonello 
remained in Sicily till that year. AntoneUo's resi- 
dence in Milan must therefore have preceded his 
visit to Sicily, where, accordingly, his biographer 
supposes him to arrive shortly before (verso) 1465. 
Circumstances are not wanting to support this con- 
jecture; for it is by no means unlikely that his 
success in Milan was regarded by his competitors 
there with extreme jealousy : though protected, as 
we assume, by the Portinari, Antonello appeared 
among the Milanese artists as a stranger, prac- 
tising a mode of painting to them unknown, and 
which had obtained favour with the wealthy. J We 
are also led to conclude that Antonello returned to 
Venice in 1473, immediately after the completion 
of the picture in S. Gregorio at Messina. In cor- 
roboration of this view, it is to be observed that 

• Siracusa, 1826. 

f Memorie de' Pittori Messinesi, p. 20. According to the 
same author, four other pictures, originally forming part of 
the altar-piece, are now in the sacristy of S. Gregorio. The 
inscription on the latter is given in the Mefnorie, p. 15, as fol- 
lows: — "Anno Dei M«CCCC<> septuagesimo tertio Antonellus 
Messauensia me pinxit." 

J The expression " Mediolani quoque fuit percelebris" (see 
MaterialSy vol. i. p. 194, note) is sufficiently conclusive on this 


2kDetti, on grounds irrespective of the above 
evidence, fixes 1473 as the date of the first oil 
picture painted by a Venetian artist.* Antonello, 
knowing that the process was gradually becoming 
public, would, on his reappearance, naturally be 
anxious to assert his claim to be considered the 
earliest teacher of the art in Italy : accordingly, he 
seems to have lost not a moment, after arriving in 
Venice, to impart the knowledge he possessed, f 
Mid the work by Bartolommeo Vivarini, formerly in 
S. Giovanni e Paolo, may have been the first, 
though as yet the very imperfect, fruits of the 
Sicilian artist's teaching. Whether Zanetti was 
right or not in judging that this picture was 
executed in oil we have now no means of ascer- 
taining, as it has disappeared; certain, however, 
it is that the earliest date, as yet known, on any 
picture painted by Antonello after his return to 
Venice is 1474. The Sicilian lived to see him- 
self surpassed even in the use of the method which 
he had taught ; but at the period now referred to, 

* Delia Pintura Veneziana. In Yenezia, 1771, p. 24. 

f Bidolfi's story (Le Meraviglie delP Arte^ vol. i. p. 48) 
respecting a stratagem employed by Giovanni Bellini to 
possess himself of Antonello's secret, need not be rejected ; it 
would only prove that Giovanni had no personal acquaintance 
with the Sicilian, and that he sought to obtain, unobserved, a 
better knowledge of the method than, as a stranger, he was 
likely to obtain. Antonello's free communication of his pro- 
cess would probably be first made to those painters whom he 
had known during his former residence in Venice. 


his works, in depth and richness of colour at least, 
were far superior to those of his Venetian followers. 
The portrait in the collection of Count Pourtal^s,* 
inscribed " 1474. Antonellus Messaneus me pinxit," 
is an excellent specimen of the artist: in force, 
warmth, and cleameiss it would bear a comparison 
with the best Flemish examples; while, although 
minutely finished (as in the eyes, eyebrows, and 
beard), it is not without a certain Italian breadth.f 
Before quitting this painter it may be remarked 
that after having once acquired the art of oil 
painting he seems never to have laid it aside for 
any other method; whereas many of those who 
adopted the Flemish process wanted inclination or 
perseverance to practise it on all occasions. We 
proceed to trace the progress of his earlier suc- 
cessors in the art at Florence. 

It does not appear that the Italian artists had as 
yet any means of acquiring a knowledge of oil 
painting from foreign professors. The Flemish 
painters who visited Italy seem to have kept their 
secret jealously. Justus van Ghent, who was em- 
ployed by Federigo da Montefeltro at Urbino, and 
one of whose works in oil, completed there in 1474, 
still exists, contrived to conceal his method from 
the painters of the Umbrian school. J Antonello da 

♦ Now in the Gallery of the Louvre. — Ed. 
f This appears to be the portrait which, according to Lanzi 
(vol. ii. p. 27), was formerly in the Casa Martinengo at Venice. 
X Sir Charles Eastlake subsequently, on a visit to Urbino, 


Messina, while residing at Milan, must have been 
equally cautious; for not a single specimen or 
record has come to light to show that the art was 
taught by him in the north of Italy till 1473, 
when he was again in Venice. A celebrated work, 
painted in oil by Antonio Pollaiuolo, was com- 
pleted, after much study and many previous essays, 
in 1475 ; and we find that this artist long wrought 
as a goldsmith before he learnt the art of oil 
painting from Piero, his younger brother. 

The productions of the Pollaiuoli comprehend 
the earliest unquestionable examples of Italian oil 
painting now extant. The two brothers at first 
worked together, but Antonio, who was the more 
accomplished designer, by degrees asserted his 
superiority. Vasari notices but one occasion, an 
early one, in which Piero painted some works alone. 
The remains are still to be seen: they consist of 
some single figures of angels and prophets, and 
an Annunciation, painted on the walls in the church 
of S. Miniato al Monte. The single figures are 

Sept 1858, examined the work bj Justus van Ghent here 
alluded to, and formed a verj low opinion of it, which he thus 
summed up in notes taken at the time : — " The painter was 
utterly unworthy to be admitted among those in Urbino who 
must have been his cotemporaries, and, assuming that this 
picture represents his ability and the extent of his qualities, 
there is not a single particular, not even ai*chitecture or still 
life, in which he can be said to have influenced the Italians." 
To this cause, perhaps, rather than to any secrecy, may be as- 
signed the fact that the method of Justus van Ghent found 
no followers in Urbino. — Ed, 


nearly effaced, and are, moreover, high on the 
wall; the Annunciation is better preserved and 
more accessible. The deep colours of the Mar 
donna's dress and certain peculiarities in the 
surface, hereafter to be noticed, indicate the ma- 
terial with which these figures are painted ; the 
appearance of the work agrees, in short, with the 
statement of Vasari, who expressly says that Piero 
executed it in oil. In the same church the brothers 
painted an altar-piece on wood, and, as Vasari 
again states, in oil; it represented three saints — 
St. James, St. Eustace, and St. Vincent. This pic- 
ture has been removed to the Gallery of the UflBlzj, 
where it now is. Puccini,* who had an opportunity 
of observing it narrowly, asserts that it is in tem- 
pera. The technical question must be left in this 
case undecided, for even supposing the brothers to 
have produced works in oil before the date of this 
picture, there would be nothing extraordinary in 
their subsequently painting an altar-piece in tem- 
pera. With respect to the general merits of the 
work, it is evident that two hands were concerned 
in it; the St. Vincent and the St. James are far 
superior to the St. Eustace : that figure is conse- 
quently to be assigned to Piero. Vasari speaks of 
a work by the Pollaiuoli executed in oil on cloth, 
in the church of S. Michele in Orto. Some single 
figures of Virtues, also painted in oil, and which 

* Memorie di Antonello degli Antonj, Firenze, 1809, p. 65, 
VOL. n. C 


were originally in the Mercatanzia (a tribunal so 
called), are now in a corridor annexed to the UflBlzj ; 
they are interesting in a technical point of view, 
and wiU be noticed as we proceed. The two pic- 
tures by Antonio in the same gallery, representing 
the Labours of Hercules, appear to be repetitions 
on a reduced scale of two out of three works of the 
kind painted for Lorenzo de' Medici; they are 
chiefly remarkable for their boldness of design. 

The celebrated picture of St. Sebastian, origi- 
nally in the chapel of S. Sebastiano a' Servi, after- 
wards in the Palazzo Pucci*, was completed in 1475. 
It is painted on wood, and unquestionably in oil ; it 
has been engraved in the Etruria Pittrice and else- 
where. The date, which Vasari, in reference to the 
general merits of the work, records as an era in art, 
its technical qualities, and its excellent preservation, 
render this picture especially worthy of attention. 
This was the first great example of the application 
of the new art to altar-pieces. Oil painting was 
thus at last recommended to the Florentines by a 
true son of the school. The enterprising genius of 
Antonio Pollaiuolo displayed itself in works re- 
markable for vigour of drawing, while the hardness 
and anatomical precision which even his oil pictures 
exhibit would scarcely be looked upon as a defect 
at the period when he lived. Soon after the com- 
pletion of the St. Sebastian, he was employed to 

• Now in the National Gallery. — Ed. 


paint a figure of St. Christopher on the external 
wall of the church of S. Miniato fi-a le Torri. The 
representations of this saint were always gigantic, 
not only in accordance with the legend, but because 
the sight of the picture was supposed to act as a 
charm in renovating the strength of the labourer 
and in preventing accidents; hence it was desirable 
that it should be conspicuous from afar as well as 
near.* The St. Christopher of Antonio Pollaiuolo 
was nearly twenty feet high : according to Baldi- 
nucci, in whose time it was still visible, there was a 
tradition that Michael Angelo in his youth was in the 
habit of making drawings from it by way of study. 

The foreground figures in the St. Sebastian are 
not only as large as life, but their style of design is 
full, in the taste afterwards carried to its extreme by 
Michael Angelo, and is thus directly opposed to the 
meagreness of the early Flemish school. The pecu- 
liarities of the execution will be described hereafter. 

But notwithstanding the great abilities of An- 
tonio Pollaiuolo, most of the Florentine artists, like 
Michael Angelo himself at a later period, could 
appreciate the efforts of their countryman in design 
without extending their approbation to the method 
of oil painting which he had adopted. The elder 
painters, such as Cosimo Rosselli, Sandro Botticelli, 

* See L' Oeservalore Fiorentino, vol. i. p. 113. Compare 
Maniago, Storia delle Belle Arti Friulane, 1823, p. 193. For 
the legend, see Mrs. Jameson's Sacred and Legendary Art, 
vol. ii. p. 48. 




and others, were too much wedded to their early 
habits to venture much on the novel practice. 
Even Domenico Ghirlandajo, who was young when 
Antonio's masterpieces were produced, showed to 
the last a disinclination for the change. He was 
in the habit of saying that painting consists in 
drawing, and that the only method which promised 
unlimited durability was mosaic — expressions which 
appear to have had reference to the opinions of 
others in favour of the new system. 

Two pictures ascribed to Ghirlandajo, in the 
Berlin Gallery, are remarkable for being painted 
partly in tempera and partly in oil. In one, repre- 
senting the Madonna in glory adored by saints 
below, the two kneeling figures of St. Jerome and 
St. Francis are in oil ; all the rest of the work is in 
tempera. The figures hi oil are supposed to be by 
Francesco Granacci, one of Ghirlandajo's scholars, 
and the inference is that the picture was left un- 
finished by the master. In the other — a single 
figure of St. Anthony — ^the saint is painted in oil, 
and the background in tempera. The companion 
picture, representing S. Vincenzo Ferreri, is en- 
tirely in tempera. In the case of the St. Anthony 
it may be supposed that the figure was completed 
after the death of Ghirlandajo by his brother David, 
or by Bastiano Mainardi, both of whom could 
imitate his manner closely. Yasari does not men- 
tion a single oil picture by Domenico Ghirlandajo. 
It is, however, quite possible that such works by 


him may exist. As rare examples, they would 
merely prove the hesitation and reluctance with 
which some of the best artists, followers of the ear- 
Ker methods, made attempts in the novel process. 

The opinions or prejudices of Ghirlandajo with 
regard to a question then so much discussed must 
have had a powerful influence on his great scholar 
Michael Angelo — the latest representative of the 
opponents of oil painting. 



The MS. referred to is a treatise on architecture in twenty- 
five chapters. Various copies in Italian and various Latin 
translations exist, but the work has never been deemed worthy 
to be printed. Two Italian copies are in Florence ; one in 
the Palatine, the other in the Magliabechian Library. Morelli 
(NoHzia (TOpere di DisegnOy pp. 160, 168) describes a Latin 
version in the library of St. Mark, at Venice, and enumerates 
other copies, in both languages, existing elsewhere. Of the 
two MSS. in Florence, that in the Palatine Library is ad- 
dressed to Francesco Sforza (who died in 1 466) ; many names 
are not filled in, some chapters or books towards the end are 
wanting, and the MS. is written in at least two different hands. 
From these circumstances, as well as from the absence of suf- 
ficient decoration, it is evident that this could not be the pre- 
sentation copy to Sforza. The Magliabechian copy is dedi- 
cated to Pietro de* Medici, and was once in the possession 
of Cosimo, the first Grand Duke: this fact, added to the 
beauty and regularity of the execution, is a sufficient proof 
that the volume was really presented to Pietro. Vasari 
( Vita di Filarete) states that it was completed and dedicated 


io 1464, and there is internal eyidence to show that it was 
not finished before the autumn of that year. Morelli {Notizia^ 
p. 169) and Zani {Encidopedia^ vol. ii. p. 336) appear to be 
wrong in supposing that the Palatine MS., addressed to Sforza, 
was written in 1460. According to Gaje {Carteggio d^ Artistic 
vol. i. p. 202), that date occurs in both MSS., but onlj with 
reference to certain edifices to mark the year when they were 
built : the same writer concludes that both copies were 
written about the same time. He remarks that both allude 
throughout to Cosmo de' Medici as living, but in this he is 
mistaken ; the Magliabechian copy speaks, towards the end, 
of the '* degnia memoria di Cosimo." Cosmo (Pater Patriae) 
died August 1st, 1464.* There is also a passage alluding to 
the death of a younger son of Cosmo, Giovanni de' Medici, 
who died in 1463. From the difficulty of making a careful 
inspection ofthe Palatine MS. when these researches were first 
undertaken, the author is not prepared to say whether any 
evidences of so late a date exist in that copy or not ; the fol- 
lowing facts are, however, not unimportant : — The Palatine 
MS. speaks at length of the Albergo de' Poveri (built by the 
writer of the treatise), at Milan, as a completed work, and, 
according to a medal quoted by Yasari, the first stone was laid 
by Francesco Sforza in 1457. After that, as appears from 
both MSS., as well as from other authorities, Filarete planned 
and partly built the Cathedral of Bergamo, and during the 
progress of that and other works, as he himself tells us, com- 
posed his voluminous treatise.')' These labours may fairly be 
allowed to extend from 1457 to 1464. In the absence of more 
special evidence, we therefore conclude with Gaye that both 
copies were written about the same time. The Magliabechian 

♦ Gaye, by an oversight, speaks of April, 1464, as the date 
of Cosmo's death. 

*[ " e [fece] nella cittk di Milano il glorioso albergho de poveri 
di Dio sotto Francesco Sforza duca quarto di Milano el quale 
colla sua mano la prima pietra nel fondamento colloco ct altre 
cose pme inessa [citta furono] hordinate, la chiesa maggiore di 
Bergamo anchora hordinai et inquesto tempo quando aveva 
alquanto divacazione queste conaltre hoperette compuosi,"8(C. — 
Magliah. MS. 


MS. contains a remarkable description of the process of oil 
painting (to be noticed hereafter) which is wanting in the 
other, and which was overlooked by Gaye. The passage, oc- 
curring towards the end in both MSS., in which Domenico 
Veneziano is mentioned, has reference to the proposed decora- 
tion of a palace at Milan which had been presented to Cosmo 
de' Medici by Francesco Sforza. The discussions often assume 
the form of a dialogue, although the interlocutors must be 
supposed :— - 

[^Principe,'] ** So, in my opinion, it should be done ; it is for 
you therefore to find the master, and to make arrangements for 
these undertakings." 

[^Filarete,'] " I fear, Signore, we must wait ; as there is a 
dearth of good masters. The proposed works should by all 
means be executed satisfactorily ; but, from whatever cause, 
good masters are not to be found. Several who were formerly 
in Florence, and who would have come at our call, are dead ; one 
called Masaccio, another called Masolino ; one who was a friar, 
called Fra GiovannL Lately, also, among other good painters, 
died Domenico da Yenezia ; another called Francesco di 
Fesello, who was a good master for animals ; another, called 
Berto, who died at Lyons on the Rhone ; another, again, who 
was very learned and skilful in painting, called Andreino de- 
gl' Impiccati : so that I fear there may be some difficulty. We 
will, however, do the best we can with those who are to be 
had ; we will see whether any good painter can be found in 
the North — one there was who was most excellent, called 
Giovanni da Bruggia ; he too is dead. I think there is one 
Maestro Ruggieri [Roger of Bruges], who is celebrated, and 
also one Giachetto, a Frenchman [or Fleming] if indeed he 
still lives. He is a clever artist, espopially in portraits ; at 
Rome he painted Pope Eugenius [IV.] with two of his atten- 
dants next him, looking absolutely alive. Those likenesses are 
painted on cloth, and the picture was placed in the sacristy of 
the church della Minerva. I speak of this work because the 
artist painted the portraits in my time.* We will therefore 

♦ Vasari, in his Life of Filarete, and probably quoting from 
the MS. here described, speaks of a portrait of Eugenius IV. in 


Bee whether we can have these painters, and if we cannot, we 
must employ those who are on the spot." * 

Some of the above allusions bj Filarete to defunct painters 
are by no means complimentary to the existing or rising talents 
of his day ; at all events, in regretting that so many good 

the Minerva by Giovanni Focchora or (first edition) Fochetta > 
— intended perhaps for the *' Giachetto Francoso '* of Filarete. 
The portrait may have been executed about 1440. 

[} It is suggested that "Fochetta " may have been the corrup- 
tion of Fouquet — Jehan Fouquet de Tours — painter to Louis XI. 
of France, and known by his portraits of royal personages. — Ed."] 

* The original passage, as written in the Magliabechian 
copy, is as follows : — 

'< A me pare checosi sidebba fare siche avoi sta trova il 
maestro a chesidia hordine afar fare queste cose. lo dubito 
Signiore abisognera aspettare pche cie carestia dimaestri 
chesien buoni pche queste cose vogliono stare bene aogni modo 
voglio stieno bene manon sitruovano maestri buoni non so 
pche nemorti una sorte che erano afirenze chesarebbono venuti 
iquali eran» biioni maestri tutti cio^ uno chiamato Masaccio 
unaltro chiamato Masolino uno chera frate chiamato fra Gio- 
vanni poi ancora nuovamente ne sono morti tra altri buoni uno 
chiamato Domonico davenegia unaltro chiamato Francesco 
dipesello il quale pesello fu grande maestro danimali unaltro 
sichiamava Berto ilquale mori alione sopra Bodano unaltro 
ancora ilquale era nella pittura molto dotto e perito ilquale 
sichiamava Andreino deglimpicchati siche dubito sara dificolta 
averne. Bene faremo conquegli che potremo avere ilmeglio si 
potra sivorrebbe vedere senelle parti oltramonti ne fusse nes- 
suno buono dove nera uno valentissimo ilquale sichiamava 
Giovanni dabruggia e lui ancora emorto parmi cisia uno ma- 
estro Ruggiera che e vantag^iato ancora uno giachetto francoso 
ancora se vive e buono maestro maximo aritrarre del naturale 
ilquale fe aroma papa Fugenio e due altri desuoi appresso 
dilui cheveramente parevano vivi proprio iquali dipinse insu 
uno panno ilquale fu collocate nella sagrestia della Minerva, 
lo dice cosi pche amio tempo glidipinse siche vedremo se- 
glipossiamo avere senon faremo conquest! checisono." 

The passage in both MSS., in which the date 1460 occurs 
in anagrams, and which gave rise to Zani's supposition that 
the treatise was completed at that period, is here given litera- 
tim from the Palatine copy, as the transcript professed to be 
taken from that MS. by Zani's correspondent is incorrect in 
some particulars : — 


painters were dead, about the year 1464, it was superfluous to 
name Masaccio, who died twenty years earlier. Still less 
necessary was it to allude to Masolino (if the same as Masolino 
da Panicale), since^ according to Baldinucci, he died in 1415. 
Of the recently deceased, at the head of whom appears 
Domenico Yeneziano, Francesco Pesello died, according to 
the same authority, in 1457. Probably, the expression ''nuo- 
vamente '' in Filarete's loose style, refers chiefly to Domenico, 
for, eTon in speaking of the then certainly recent deaths of 
Giovanni and Cosmo de' Medici (1463, 1464), he uses no such 

It is remarkable that, in Filarete's judgment, two Northern 
painters — Roger of Bruges and ** Giachetto Francoso " — were 
after all the fittest to execute the proposed works at Milan. 
The unknown ** Giachetto,'^ * like Roger of Bruges, was pro* 
bably an oil painter, and this is not the only instance in whicli 
the architects of that time, aiming at durability in decorations, 
and persuaded of the superior recommendations of oil painting 
in that respect, showed a preference for the new method. The 
omission of Antonello da Messina's name in Filarete's capri- 
cious list may be explained by that painter having, in all pro- 
bability, quitted Milan for Sicily when the passage was written. 
Yincenzo Foppa, a native of Lombardy, and the artist ulti- 
mately employed f , is abo unnoticed. 

'' Disse allhora il figliolo del Signore alinterpreto per nostra 
fe chiariteci un poco quelle dicono le lettere. lo vi chiariro 
quelle io nintendo di queste pche cie alcuna non ne intendo 
bene pche sono lettere in modo intromesse che no sintendono 
le qualt sono queste — Re zogalea gliofi D. FR. SF. [Re Gale- 
azo figlio di Francesco Sforza] i quali hanno p lore magna- 
nimita questo porto con tutti questi altri edifitii e la terra 
insieme constituita e fondata questo a chi passera fla note e p 
lo architetto nostro ordinati il quale onitoan nolihaver [An- 
tonio Haverlino] chiamato p patria notirenflo [FlorentinoJ ncl 
lemi troqua tocen tasanse [mile quatro cento sesanta]. Questo 
non ne intendo altrimenti. Ben basta noi faremo scrivere il 
nome el tempo di chi ha fatto fare e fatto si quando sara forniti 
questi deficii che restano a fare." 

• See p. 24, note by Ed. 

f Yasari, Yita di Michelozzo Michelozzi, and Yita di Filarete. 




Before we proceed to inquire into the Italian 
practice of oil painting, it will be desirable to re- 
capitulate the chief characteristics of the early 
Flemish school, since to that school Italian oil 
painting owed its origin. 

The details contained in the first volume of this 
work render it now possible to confine our atten- 
tion to the conclusions derived from them, without 
going into the evidence on which such conclusions 
rest : it will be sufficient to refer to the documents 
there adduced, occasionally noticing some others 
which have since come to light, and which either 
corroborate or correct the former statements. 

Tempera pictures, executed before and after the 
time of Van Eyck, were coated with a varnish 
composed of sandarac dissolved in linseed oil, 
generally in the proportion of three parts of oil to 
one of resin.* This varnish was extremely durable, 

♦ Vol. i. pp. 241, 251, 253. Compare Mrs. Merrifield's 
Original Treatises, dating from the twelfth to the eighteenth 


but it was a substitute for a firmer composition of 
the kind, still more ancient in date, and in which 
amber was used instead of sandarac. The word 
Vemice, or Bemice, was originally appropriated 
first to amber and then to sandarac, as dry sub- 
stances.* The sandarac varnish was known in 
Italy by the name of " vemice liquida ;" the amber 

centuries, on the arts of Fainting, &c,, 1849, Introduction, 
p. cclxi. 

• VoL i. pp. 230, 237, note. The authority of Eustathius 
on the early application of the word Bernice is alone conclu- 
sive ; others will, however, be found in the treatises of 
Libavius, Salmasius, Butman, and the authors quoted by them. 
Butman's derivation of Bernice from Bernstein, a northern 
appellation of amber, is probably correct {Mythologusy vol. ii. 
p. 362). The antiquity of the trade with the North for this 
substance is established by the following passages from another 
high authority : — " The amber trade, which was probably 
first directed to the West Cimbrian coasts, and only subse- 
quently to the Baltic and the country of the Esthonians, owes 
its first origin to the boldness and perseverance of Phoenician 
coast navigators. In its subsequent extension it ofiers a re- 
markable instance of the influence which may be exerted by a 
predilection for even one single foreign production in opening 
an inland trade between nations, and in making known large 
tracts of country. In the same way that the Phocsean Mas- 
silians brought the British tin across France to the Rhone, the 
amber was conveyed from people to people through Germany, 
and by the Celts on either declivity of the Alps to the Po." 
Again :-*'' A not inconsiderable inland trade with the remote 
amber countries was carried on by them (the Etruscans), 
passing through Northern Italy and across the Alps.'' — Hum- 
boldt, Cosmos^ vol. ii. pp. 128, 134, Sabine's translation. 
Among the works quoted in support of these statements is 
Ukert's memoir ** Ueber das Electrum, in der Zeitschrift fiir 
Alterthumswissenschaft," Jahr. 1838, No. 62-55. 


varnish by that of " vernice d' ambra," or " vemice 
liquida gentile."* Both, in consequence of the 
great heat required in their preparation, were dark 
in colour, the amber varnish most so. Both in* 
clined to a warm reddish hue, not merely from the 
effects of partial carbonisation, but, in the case of 
the sandarac especially, because the dry substance 
acquires a russet hue from age. In English ac- 
count-rolls of the thirteenth and fourteenth cen- 
turies, the term "vemisium rubrum" distinguishes 
the sandarac resin.f 

Not only tempera pictures, but painted walls 
and even implements and armour, were, in the 
middle ages, commonly varnished with vemice 
liquida. J For ordinary purposes the varnish was less 
carefully prepared ; common resin (" pece Greca," or 
" pegola*') was sometimes mixed with the sandarac, 
sometimes superseded it; such compositions were 
called "vemice grossa," and "vemice comune."§ 

• VoL i. pp. 238, 241. 

t lb. p. 247. 

X lb. pp. 238, 239, 252. Marciana MS., Mrs. Merrifield*s 
Original Treatises, p. 636. 

§ Fioraventi, Compendia dei Secreti Rationali. Venezia, 
1597, p. 116. Marciana MS., 637. The epithet ''comune" 
necessarily changed its application accordingly as any given 
varnish became common ; the term *' grossa ** is equally vague. 
Originally there can be no doubt that the ''vernice liquida" was 
called '' comune ; " that the '' gemeiner virnis " of the Strass- 
burg MS. was sandarac, as opposed to amber, and even so late 
as the seventeenth century an English writer (Salmon, Poly- 
graphices, 1. ii. c. 6) speaks of *' common liquid varnish " com- 


The warm reddish tint of the sandarac varnish 
rendered it unfit, in nice operations, for covering 
greens and blues, and indeed any delicate colours 
which might be vitiated by its hue. For such 
purposes a lighter varnish, called by the Italians 
" vemice chiara," was used, composed of mastic or 
of bleached fir resin, or sometimes of both, and nut 
oil* (the commoner kind consisting of the ordinary 
fir resin and linseed oil). In English records of 
the thirteenth and following century the " white " 
as well as the " red " varnish frequently occurs ; the 
white varnish being generally mentioned together 

posed of 'Minseed oil and gum sandarack." Italians of the 
sixteenth century, however, understood by " vernice comune " 
a compound of linseed oil and common resin. Even this, 
according to Bonanni (Trattato sopra la Vernice^ 4^c., in 
Bologna, 1786, p. 42), was improperly called "vemice di 
ambra ; " again, Giambattista Yolpata, in a MS. possessed by 
the author, speaks of " vernice grossa o d' ambra." The red and 
white varnishes had probably their common substitutes, and 
in comparing many authorities it appears that in general 
** vemice grossa " meant a cheap substitute for amber or for 
sandarac, probably resembling those varnishes in tint, while 
" vernice comune " was the lighter coarse kind. According to 
De Mayerne (see Vol. i. pp. 303, 304), the so-called ** huile 
d'ambre de Venise," or •* Vernix d'ambre de Venise,** sold in 
the shops in Italy in his time, and no doubt the same as that 
mentioned by Yolpato, inclined, like sandarac, to a red tint. 
For the rest, the application of the term " amber varnish " to 
the most ordinary oleo-resinous compounds proves the esti- 
mation in which the real medium was held. 

• Armenini, De' veri Precetti della Fittura (in Ravenna, 
1 587, p. 129). Vol. i. pp. 247, 462, note, 552. Marciana MS., 
Mrs. Merrifield, Oiiginal Treatises, p. 632. 


with materials for painting surfaces in green or in 
blue. For example, in the fabric-rolls of Exeter 
Cathedral, under the date 1320, verdigris, azure, 
indigo, and white varnish are included in the same 
entry:* in that document, the white varnish is one 
shilling the pound ; the red was always cheaper.f 

The English records, not to mention various 
other documents before quoted, also show that at 
the periods referred to (before 1400), colours 
mixed with linseed oil were used for common pur- 
poses of decoration. In such cases the painted 
surface, if coated with " vemice liquida," would be 
very durable: it was, however, durable of itself 
and from another cause ; the details of Cennini, J 
the Byzantine MS.,§ and other authorities prove 
that the oil so used with colours was thickened, by 
exposure to the air and sun, to the consistence of 
honey. These descriptions of the medium agree 
with the appearance of certain portions — such as 
ornamental patterns and other details — executed 
in oil in early tempera pictures. The edges of the 
part3 so painted are blunt, and the surface is not 
merely raised (as tempera itself often is), but the 

* ** 1320. 1 libra de azura empta London per Dominum 
Episcopum Walterum dd Stapeldon, 1 libra de Ynde bandas, 
18^. ; 4 lib. de verdigris, 2<. 4d. ; 4 lib. de vermilloun ; 5 lib. 
de verniz alb. 5s, ; | de Sinople, 4<. 9d, ..In 16 lagenis olei pro 
pictura, 21*. M." 

t Vol. i. pp. 247, 248. 

t lb. pp. 65-9. 

§ lb. p. 79. 


substance is transparent.* The thickened oil was 
found, from experience, to be much more durable 
than oil in a fresher state ; when so prepared it is, 
in fact, half resinified, it acquires the nature of a 
varnish, and, to use a technical term, "locks up" 
colours more eflFectually.f 

Both the oil and the varnishes used were thus 
calculated for durability. The perfect gloss which 
resulted from their semi-resinous state indicated a 
compactness of the particles which secured the 
surface from damp and rendered it possible to pre- 
serve the work in a clean state, if necessary, even 
by occasional ablution.J But the thick consistence 
of the oil rendered it unmanageable for finer paint- 
ing; hence, such portions as required very delicate 

• Vol. i. pp. 71, 73. Cicognara {Storia della ScuUura, 
Prato, 1823, vol. iii. p. 158) describes a tempera picture by 
the early Venetian painter Lorenzo, dated 1369. It not only 
retained the original yarnish, but certain portions were exe- 
cuted in oil. ''The colour employed in the ornaments and 
gems on the gold ground, in the nimbus, and on the drapery 
of the Christ, is not tempera, but appears as if crystallized 
with another diaphanous and thick substance, strongly adher- 
ing to the gold ground, with which tempera would not bind. 
The tints used in these ornaments were evidently ground and 
prepared with the same oil or varnish which was spread over 
the whole work/' 

t Vol. i. p. 511, note. 

{ Vasari's expressions, '^ 11 modo di poterle lav are,'* and, 
speaking of Van Eyck's vehicle '^secca non temeva V acqua" 
( Vita di Antonello da Messina), may be compared with Pliny's 
'* custodiretque a pulvere et sordibus,*' when speaking of an 
ancient varnish. Vol. i. p. 14. 


modelling — ^for example, the heads and undraped 
portions of figures in altar-pieces— were executed 
in tempera.* We are not called upon to explain 
the reason why oil painting — ^generally known and 
practised as it was, for ordinary purposes, before 
the year 1400 — should have been so long despised 
for works of price and skill. Nothing, apparently, 
prevented the painters of those days from employ- 
ing the oil in a thinner state, since, even admitting 
its more perishable nature in that state, it could 
always have been protected, like a work in tempera, 
by the customary varnish. Of the fact of the un- 
willingness of the painters, and of their persevering 
to practise tempera for ages after the immixture of 
colours with oil was known, there is, however, no 
doubt whatever. It is even certain that long after 
excellent oil pictures had been produced, such as 
to excite an admiration which has lasted to our 
day, some of the best Italian masters still looked 
upon the art with distrust and dislike. 

But, at all events, the practice of decorators in 
the application of colours with oil, and the long 
experience of tempera painters in the use of var- 
nishes, before the commencement of the fifteenth 
century, enable us to form some idea of the nature 
of the improvements introduced by Hubert Van 
Eyck.f He was in the habit, like others, of coating 

* VoL i, pp. 72, 175. 

f The claims of Hubert Van Ejck as the original inventor 
of the new method are now uniyersallj acknowledged. See 


his tempera pictures with " vemice liquida;" like 
others, he must also have been acquainted with the 
"white varnish." (We find that in 1353 Lonyn of 
Bruges furnished some pounds of the substance so 
called for the use of the painters of St. Stephen's 
Chapel.*) For a time his habits may have been 
in all respects those of the painters who had 
preceded him. Painted and varnished walls in 
interiors were sometimes dried by means of fire:f 
the varnished tempera picture, being movable, was 
always placed in the sun, precisely according to the 
directions of Eraclius and Theophilus.J There is 
therefore nothing improbable in Vasari's story, 
that a work of Van Eyck's painted on wood (the 
material then almost universally employed), when 
so exposed by him, split from the heat, and induced 
the artist to think of preparing his " vernice " so 
that it should dry without the aid of the sun's heat. 
A similar accident happened to a Flemish painter 
at a later period §, and may have happened to 
many. To an Italian, accustomed to the practice 
of so exposing pictures, and aware of the danger 
attending it||, the explanation would seem quite 
satisfactory. A northern painter might only sug- 
gest that the tediousness of drying, with or without 
the sun, in a humid climate, might have been a 

Carton, Let trois Freres Van Eyeky p. 32 ; compare Passayanty 
Kunst'Blati, 1850, p. 14. • Vol. L p. 248, note. 

t lb. p. 53. J lb. pp. 35, 40. § lb. 512. 

II Cennini, Tratiato, c. 155. 


sufficient reason for devising some means to accele- 
rate the process of desiccation. Yet no sufficient 
means for this purpose, we may be assured, had 
been adopted before Hubert Van Eyck's time. 

The primary object of Van Eyck, according to 
Vasari, was thus to make the customary varnish 
more drying.* His first experiments were with 
< the oils. He found no reason to conclude that 

\ linseed oil — the vehicle then generally used — was 

inferior to any other known oils as regards its sic- 
cative quality; but he seems to have revived the 
use of walnut (nut) oilf, and, as that oil has been 
supposed to become less yellow than the other with 
time, he may have employed it for certain colours, 
and may have appropriated it to the preparation of 
the " white varnish." We find that, at all events, 
this practice afterwards obtained. 

The chief dryer which he used in preparing the 
oUs or varnishes appears to have been white cop- 
peras — a material common in Germany, and which 
was certainly used in Flanders for the purpose in 
question in the fifteenth century. The reasons 
which may have induced Van Eyck to prefer this 
dryer to lead have been explained in the preceding 
volume.J The records of the time and country 

* Vol. i. p. 205; compare Morelli, Notizia, &c., p. 116. 

f It had been used as a yarnisb in, if not before, the fifth 
century, and had been tried, though without success, apparently 
as a medium for colours, in the fourteenth. Vol. i. pp. 19, 46. 

X See Vol. i. pp. 130, 131, 285, the extracts from the Strass> 


further show that the oils were then purified and 
rendered more drying by means of calcined 

In searching for choicer resinous materials, and 
such as promised the utmost durability, Van Eyck 
could hardly fail to give a preference to amber. 
The darkness of the ordinary (and perhaps very 
ancient) solutions of amber was an objection to 
them as varnishes, and this appearance he may have 
corrected, as it is corrected now, by great care in 
the preparation-! Another substance, often, like 
sandarac, confounded with amber in the middle 

burg MS.» and from that of De Ketliam, also p. 366. It 
should be further observed that white copperas is perfectly 
safe as a dryer when boiled with oil or varnishes, since it only 
parts with its sulphuric acid at a much higher temperature 
than in such boiling it can be subjected to. When calcined, 
it is also harmless, having then parted with its sulphunc acid ; 
but in this state it is a white pigment merely (flowers of zinc), 
and as such is unfit for the darks, and superfluous (as a dryer) 
in the lights. Mixed with colours when it is dried only, not 
calcined, it may be sometimes injurious, ''on account of the 
extreme tendency of the vitriolic acid to become dark." On 
this defect see the Traite de la Pdnture au Pastel. Paris, 
1788, p. 69. 

♦ Vol. i. pp. 130, 143. 

t See the description of Lewis's method in his Commercium 
PkilosophicO'Technicum, London, 1763, p. 366. It is quoted 
in Mrs. Merrifield's Ancient Treatises, &c., Introduction, 
p. cclxxiv., note. Lewis's solution of amber was ''in linseed 
oil, gold coloured; in oil of poppy-seeds, yellowish red ; in oil 
of nuts, deeper coloured." From these experiments it would 
appear that the ancient medium, linseed oil, is fittest for the 
amber varnish. 



ages*, may also have invited the Flemish artists' 
attention; this was copal, which forms a varnish 
quite as eligible for paintingf, and which can be pre- 

♦ Vol. i. p. 233. 

t See the interesting account of Sheldrake's experiments 
with amber and copal, Transactions of the Society of Arts^ 
1801, vol. xix. " These colours (mixed with amber) were not 
acted upon," he observes, " by spirit of wine and spirit of 
turpentine united. They were washed with spirit of sal am- 
moniac and solutions of potash for a longer time than would 
destroy common oil-colours, without being injured." The 
result of his experiments with copal was the same, '^ except 
that with copal the colours were something brighter than with 
amber." He concludes : — " If my experiments have not mis- 
led me, I am entitled to draw the following conclusions from 
them : — Wherever a picture was found possessing evidently 
superior brilliancy of colour, independent of what is produced 
by the painter's skill in colouring, that brilliancy is derived 
from the admixture of some resinous substance in the vehicle. 
If it does not yield on the application of spirit of turpentine 
and spirit of wine, separately or together, nor to such alkalies 
as are known to dissolve oils in the same time, it is to be pre- 
sumed that vehicle contains amber or copal, because they are 
the only substances known to resist those menstrua." 

With regard to the superior brilliancy of the tints mixed 
with copal, this, it seems, is only the case at first. Dreme 
{Der FirnisS' und Kittmacher^ Briinn, 1821, p. 129) observes, 
that when the two compounds are employed in coach-varnish- 
ing, the copal is the more brilliant for a time only, but that in 
the end, and after long exposure to sun and rain, the amber is 
far superior. For the purposes which we are now considering, 
the difference in the relative durability of the two substances 
is unimportant. The tendency of copal to become yellow, and 
the darker hue of the amber varnish, are no objections to 
painters who are not afraid of depth. The never-failing force 
of the early oil pictures is among the proofs that the vehicles 
then used were not light in colour. Intensity, either in chiar- 


pared less coloured even than that of sandarac. In 
an historical point of view, in which we profess 
chiefly to consider these questions, it is, however, 
more probable that Van Eyck used amber than 
copal, because, as we have seen, the former sub- 
stance was certainly employed in Flanders in the 
fifteenth century, and because it was at hand. The 
oriental or African copal could, doubtless, have 
been imported in the North, just as amber found 
its way, in the remotest times, from the Baltic to 
the Mediterranean; but there is no documentary 
evidence to prove that it was used in painting so 
early. These doubts are of little consequence, as 
both materials possess nearly the same recom- 
mendations ; we shall even find that most Italian 
painters were satisfied with the sandarac varnish. 
The great point is, that the early painters used resins 
dissolved in fixed oils, not in essential oils; and it 
appears that even the weakest of the former class 
of varnishes — the compound of linseed oil and 
common resin — was considered adapted to protect 
surfaces in the open air.* 

It was before observed that the early practice of 
using the red or white varnish, according to the 
colours over which they were passed, or accoi-ding 
to the transparent colours with which they were 

oscuro or in local hues^ was considered indispensable, and 
implies a more or less tinted medium. 

• Smith, Art of Painting in Oil, 1687, p. 86. Salmon. 
Polygraphices, I. ii. c. 5. 


mixed, may have given Van Eyck the first idea of 
assisting the eflFect of tempera with variously tinted 
oleo-resinous lackers — compositions which had been 
used for certain ornamental purposes for centuries 
before his time.* Whether this was the inter- 
mediate step or not is of little importance, a great 
improvement gradually arose out of his first ex- 
periments. The design being carefully drawn and 
shaded, he ground the colours in clarified, but not 
thickened oilf (using, we may presume, the lighter 
coloured oil with the more delicate tints), and then 
adding to each tint a certain quantity of the red or 
white varnish, in greater or less proportions, and 
also according to the tint. J The shadows, darks, 
and warm tints generally might be safely fortified 
with the amber varnish; but the sky, and certain 

♦ Vol. i. pp. 38, 263, 264, 272. It has been seen (Vol. i. 
p. 270) that the early painters were so accustomed to the reddish 
hue of the sandarac varnish that other compositions intended to 
represent it were sometimes tinged with a red colour. The 
following extracts confirm this. In a Venetian MS., dated 1466, 
in the possession of Mr. Seymour Kirkup, we read:— "Da 
fare la sustantia si pone i luogo dela Vnixe liquida, quando 
quella n5 si trovasse." The ingredients are *'oleo de semente 
de lino, mastexe, minio, incenso " and " pegola biancha." In a 
Bolognese MS., also of the fifteenth century, published by Mrs. 
Merrifield {Original Treatises^ p. 489), we find the following 
receipt: — ''A fare vernice liquida per altro modo. Recipe 
libre 1 de olio de seme de lino . • . poi tolli mezo quarto de 
alume de rocho spolverizato et altratanto minio o cinabrio,** 
Tiie yellow and green varnishes were no less common. 

t See Vol. i. pp. 130, 278, the extracts from the Strassburg 
MS. t lb. p. 279. 


colours — ^such as greens and blues — would, precisely 
according to the earlier practice of the decorators, 
require to be mixed with the white varnish. The 
work executed with such materials was already 
sufficiently protected; the final varoish, in search 
of which all the experiments had been undertaken, 
was now no longer necessary. The materials in- 
tended to be used for that purpose had been incor- 
porated, to a sufficient extent, with the colours, 
and left them glossy, transparent, and firm.* 

Meanwhile the tempera picture had been gradu- 
ally reduced to a carefully shaded drawing, or, at 
most, to a very light chiaroscuro painting, as, on 
the other hand, what might be compared to the 
former ultimate varnishing had become a compli- 
cated work, in which opaque as well as transparent 
colours were used. 

As this system had been gradually developed 
from the previous mode of varnishing, so, however 
long the process might be, it was a single and final 
operation. The work was essentially executed at 
oncef , or, as the Italians express it, " aUa prima." 
This system is quite compatible with utmost care 
and precision. It supposes the design to be per- 
fectly settled, and the drawing to be finished 
beforehand, and enables the painter to leave his 
ground (that is, the tint of the priming) when and 
where he pleases — a power of which the later 

• Vol. i. p. 205. t lb. pp. 393, 394. 


Flemish painters took great advantage. A recent 
example in our own school may here be quoted : 
Wilkie's celebrated picture of the "Preaching of 
John Knox," though long in hand, was executed in 
the sense explained, at once, on the white ground, 
patches of which were to be seen next finished 
portions of the work till the whole was completed. 
This general characteristic of the early Flemish 
painters (the exceptions and modifications we need 
not stay to consider) was adhered to and carried 
to perfection by Rubens, who arrested his design 
in finished sketches, in order that the picture 
itself might be executed as much as possible " alia 
prima." ♦ We shall find, in the course of our in- 
vestigations, that the Italian, and especially the 
Venetian practice diflfered essentially in this respect 
from the practice of the Flemish school. 

To return to the earlier methods. The varnishes 
that have been described were thick in consistence. 
Experience taught that the resinous ingredient, on 
which their compactness and their hydrofuge qua- 
lity mainly depended, should be as copious as was 
compatible with the toughness of the composition. 
Such a consistence in the red varnish, which was 
freely used with transparent darks, not only in- 
sured (at least for a considerable time) an effect of 

* Vol. i. pp. 492, 429. Latterlj, as is well known, Rubens' 
sketches were partly intended to enable his scholars to prepare 
his pictures. 


depth by its lucid clearness* — ^a quality more or 
less common to all these preparations, — ^but was 
further necessary on the principle that in proportion 
as the pigment has less body the vehicle requires 
to be substantial. The white varnishes were even 
thicker, but for other reasons: they were em- 
ployed with the paler fugitive colours, such as 
yellow lakes, which, if unprotected, soon disap- 
pear ;f with verdigris, which, in order to remain 
unchanged, requires to be well guarded from damp 
by a medium which, though abundant, cannot 
vitiate its tint. J Lastly, they were employed espe- 
cially with blues, which, consisting chiefly of car- 
bonates of copper, were found to become partially 
green and otherwise altered in time, if not eiffec- 
tually "locked up."§ An Italian writer accord- 
ingly intimates that blue requires more gum than 
any other colour. || The " vemice liquida," whe- 
ther prepared with sandarac or amber, was com- 

* Compare the passage from Cicognara before quoted (p. 31.) 

f On the superior effect of resinous compounds, as compared 
with mere oils, in preserving fugitive colours, see the experi- 
ments quoted in Vol. i. p. 444. 

t lb. pp. 458, 468. 

§ The colour called ^* azurro della Magna" (d* Allemagna) 
was, with the exception of ultramarine, almost the only blue 
used bj the early painters. See the observations of Petrini, 
in the Antologia (Firenze), August, 1821. 

II ** Fa bisogno a voler temperar bene i colori d' osservar che 
r azurro da campo vuole assai gomma, in discrezione ; il verde 
• . . a bel modo, ma la biacca ne vuol puochissima.*' — Birelli, 
Opere. In Fiorenza, 1601, p. 346, 


posed, as already stated, of three parts of linseed 
oil to one of resin ; the quantity of oil being neces- 
sarily reduced in the preparation by fire. But 
the white varnish, when composed of fir resin and 
nut oil, consisted of two parts only of oil to one of 
resin.* The light varnish of mastic and nut oil 
was at least as thick, for Armenini directs that the 
resin should be merely well covered with oil in the 
vessel in which it was to be dissolved-! The safe 
proportion, combining toughness, by means of the 
oil, with the lustre and firmness which the resin 
imparted, was, in these lighter varnishes especially, 
sometimes overpassed. Accordingly, in the early 
oil pictures, the white varnishes have, in most 
cases, become more extensively cracked than the 
dark ones, although the latter, from another cause, 
often exliibit a rougher appearance. The white 
and red varnishes are easily distinguished in pic- 
tures, not only by the colours to which they were 
respectively appropriated, but by their effects. 
The cracks of the sandarac varnish or ordinary 
*' vemice liquida," when that compound has been 
used moderately, are short, and sooner or later 
become abraded at the edges. When used in 
quantity, the substance acquires in time, and espe- 
cially if* exposed to the sun's rays, a corroded and 

* Boltzen, Illumirbuch, 1566, p. 5. Strassburg MS., quoted 
Vol. i. p. 278. Fioravanti, Compendio, &c., p. 116, gives even 
three parts of resia to one of oil. 

t De' veri Precetti, &c., p. 129. 


blistered appearance. The white varnish, on the 
other hand, has long continuous cracks, and yet 
retains a smoother surface. The characteristics of 
the two may be seen together in the portrait of 
Julius IL, ascribed to Raphael, in the National 
Gallery. The green colour is protected by the 
usual white varnisK, the "vernice liquida" being 
used elsewhere in the picture. A specimen of 
the excessive corroded appearance which the latter 
varnish sometimes presents is to be seen in the 
shadows of the drapery of the St. Peter in the pic- 
ture by Annibale Carracci, No. 9 in the same col- 
lection. This apparently blistered effect is the 
never-failing mark of sandarac as distinguished also 
from the amber varnish, which never exhibits such 
extreme results; although, like copal, it cracks (if 
at all) in the same short manner. The long glassy 
crack distinguishes mastic and fir resin when they 
are used abundantly.* 

♦ The oil varnishes, which afforded, and which often still 
afford, such effectual protection to the paintings of the early 
masters, require to be themselves protected after the lapse of 
years. For this purpose the essential-oil varnishes (which 
were first used by the Italians) are quite sufficient. Had these 
been applied in time, so as merely to exclude the air from the 
surface of the painting — the action of the sun's rays being 
always supposed to be guarded against — the cracked and cor- 
roded appearances above described might have been arrested. 

If, on the one hand, the effects of time may be prevented by 
these expedients, they may, on the other, be accelerated (for 
the sake of experiment) by exposing varnished surfaces in the 
open air. A good copal varnish (somewhat diluted, however, 


There were some apparent exceptioiiB to the 
system above described in the treatment both of 
lights and darks. All dark shadows, those even of 
blues and greens, inasmuch as such darks are com- 
paratively colourless, were commonly inserted with 
the "vemice liquida." When, in the early oil 
pictures, blues which have retained their colour are 
not prominent, that is, when they are not protected 
by a superabundance of (the white) varnish, it 
may be inferred that the colour used was ultra- 
marine. Opaque colours of whatever tint, espe- 
cially if durable, required to be mixed with no 
more varnish than was requisite to give them a 
gloss like the rest of the work. Black, for example, 
was so treated; it was thus distinguished, as a 
local colour, from mere darkness, and had less 
transparency than the shadows : moreover, it re- 
quired no especial protection from the atmosphere, 
since, as a colour, it is not aflTected by the ordinary 
causes of change. On the same principle, and still 
more obviously, white, as well as all solid, light, 
permanent colours, required less vehicle : their ap- 
parent substance would have become inconveniently 
prominent (as compared with the ordinary surface 

according to the modem system, with spirit of turpentine), 
after being so exposed for two years, has become minutely 
cracked like (thin) sandarac, and threatens further decay. 
With regard to the complicated effects of certain ingredients, 
such as wax, asphaltum, glass, &c., in varnishes, no attempt 
will be here made to trace or explain them. 


preferred by the early masters) if a varnish, of the 
consistence above described, had been mixed with 
them in great quantity: but they do not even 
require such protection, and on this account also 
they were applied with less of the fortifying 
vehicle. In the early oil pictures the most solid 
painting, on a comparatively large scale, and chiefly 
produced by the thickness of the pigment, occurs 
in light skies. Even these contain a proportion of 
vamish; for it was necessary that a sufficient 
quantity of it should be mixed with all the colours 
to insure a uniform gloss, and to render a final 
vamish superfluous, at least for many years. The 
presence of the oleo-resinous medium even in the 
opaque colours is to be detected, among other in- 
dications, by the prominence of small ornaments 
and of all details where the touch was unavoidably 
minute. In such portions, where it was impos- 
sible to spread the colour, the substance which it 
derives from the varnish gives it an embossed ap- 

It is to be remembered that there were no other 
ingredients in these varnishes than fixed oils, resins, 
and dryers, such as have been described.* No 
essential oils entered into their composition. We 
find that in the seventeenth century the cabinet- 
makers of Amsterdam introduced spike oil into the 

* The ingredients sometimes introduced for absorbing the 
aqoeoas particles and for mechanically clarifying the composi- 
tion, are of course excepted. 


" vernice liquida," to render it more drying with- 
out impairing its clearness.* There are evidences 
of a similar practice in Italy at the close of the 
sixteenth century; but we meet with nothing of 
the kind in the earliest records of the Flemish 
method. According to that method, when, in the 
course of painting, the varnishes or the tints mixed 
with them were found to be too thick, they were 
diluted not with an essential oil but with a fixed 
oil — with the same fluid in which the resin was 
dissolved.! There may thus, after all, be some 
tinith in Ridolfi's statement that Antonello da 
Messina was seen to dilute his tints from time to 
time as he worked, with linseed oil. J In the 
original process, the admixture of essential oils 
would hardly have been compatible with durability ; 
the strength even of the amber varnish is impaired 
if the composition be diluted with an evaporable 
ingredient; the compactness of the substance is 
thus necessarily diminished, and the result is ap- 
parent, in extreme cases, by the dulness of the 
surface. In the later Italian practice, on the other 
hand, the colours, often copiously diluted with an 
essential oil, and mixed only in certain cases witli 
varnish, required to be coated with a protecting 
varnish as soon as the work was completed. It is 

♦ Vol. i. p. 507, note. 

f An indication of this practice will be found in an earlj 
Dutch or Flemish MS. quoted Vol. i. p. 286, note. 

J Le Meraviglie delF Arte. In Venezia, 1648. Vol. i. p. 49. 


unnecessary to decide between the two methods ; 
the choice, in either case, was first dictated by the 
experience of climate.* 

The practice of the early Flemish masters in 
preparing the ground, and in carefully drawing 
the design upon it, has been described at length 
in the preceding volume. It may only be neces- 
sary to add, in reference to that subject, that the 
shading of the design (to be painted upon) was 
carried so far, with the point, or with a tint in 
water-colour, that the light ground was in a great 
measure excluded by it, and, consequently, more 
excluded in the darks than in the lights of the 
picture. This was one of the defects of the 
original Flemish process; it was remedied by sub- 
sequent painters, and more especially by Rubens, 
who was careful to preserve brightness within the 
transparent shadows, while his solid lights exclude 
the ground, t The older Flemish painters kept 
their lights. thin, and as the opaque colours had less 
of the varnish mixed with them, their surface is 
generally bxit little raised, while that of the sha- 
dows, and of those colours which required much 
vehicle, projects beyond the surface of the lights. 
Various Flemish pictures of the fifteenth century 

* Vol. i. p. 434. In Vol. i. p. 313, it is conjectured that 
the sharpneBs of execution observable in some works of the 
early oil painters indicates the admixture of essential oils : the 
same precision is however quite attainable with fixed oils, 
even when somewhat thickened by a resinous ingredient. 

t lb. pp. 492, 499. 


might be referred to in illustration of the general 
practice which has been described, the system 
being, of course, more apparent in large works. 
The following are among the technical character- 
istics which will generally be recognised : — The sur- 
face of the flesh tints is seldom prominent ; black 
is little prominent; rich shadows, and, above all, 
greens and blues, are, in a manner, embossed, and, 
for the reasons before given, are often more cracked 
than the rest of the work. Two pictures by 
Mabuse at Hampton Court — No. 509, representing 
James IV. of Scotland, with other figures, and No. 
510, his Queen — are remarkable examples. On 
looking at the mere surface of the first (which may 
be best contrived by viewing it from an angle with 
the light in which it shines), it will be seen that the 
face and the black cap of the principal figure are 
quite embedded within the prominent green drapery 
round it ; the blue is in like manner prominent, and 
the shadows, even when small in quantity, are gene- 
rally more raised than the lights. This is one of 
innumerable examples of the kind, and the observer 
who is interested in such particulars may easily 
detect the same system in smaller works of the 
school : the green drapery, for example, in the Van 
Eyck in the National Gallery, is more prominent 
and more cracked than any other part of the 
picture ; the blue, which is less thick than usual, 
is probably in this case ultramarine. By such 
observation it will also become apparent that the 


methods of the Flemish painters were in many 
respects allied to the habits of preceding ages, and 
the humble records of the decoration of St. 
Stephen's Chapel, and of English cathedrals, veri- 
fied and explained as those records are by later 
documents, throw no inconsiderable light on the 
original practice of oil painting. 

The leading peculiarities above described are to 
be traced in the early Italian oil pictures, proving 
the Flemish origin of the mode in which they were 
executed; the effects of time on some of these 
works tend further to show what was the nature 
and consistence of the varnishes used. In some 
half-decayed pictures, the darks, where the " vemice 
liquida" has been copiously employed, are fre- 
quently blistered in the mode before described ; 
the greens and blues, in which the white varnish 
has been freely used, causing their surface to be 
prominent, are cracked only, but to a great extent ; 
the blacks, the flesh tints, and the sky (though the 
latter is often painted with considerable body) are 
cracked least.* 

Such appear to have been the vehicles of the 
early oil painters. Those who are interested in 
such investigations will perhaps be curious to 

• In the practice of oil painting here considered, the ten- 
dency to crack is generally in proportion to the quantity or 
quality of the resinous ingredient employed. Some of the 
later Flemish painters seem to have used thickened oil only in 
their rich shadows to obviate the defect 



know whether such materials can now be satis- 
factorily prepared. The " vernice liquida," and 
the amber varnish, after having become obsolete 
in practice, and after their very designations had, 
unaccountably enough, become a mystery, have 
been lately revived in consequence of these re- 
searches ; and we are now enabled to verify the 
descriptions of the oldest writers on art from actual 
observation and experiment. The solution of the 
light resins in the fixed oils (forming the "white 
varnish") is easily accomplished: the solution of 
sandarac and amber in those oils is, on the other 
hand, difficult and dangerous, as the operation, to 
be successful, requires to be undertaken on a large 
scale. The English varnish-makers, who are sur- 
passed by none, were at first reluctant to make 
these solutions with so small a quantity in propor- 
tion to the " gums," as the old formulae prescribe, 
and without the usual ingredient of an essential 
oil, which latter not only thins the composition, 
but renders it more drying. It was, however, con- 
sidered of importance, with a view to making the 
experiment fairly, that the ancient method should 
be strictly followed. The employment of a per- 
fectly purified linseed oil was by no means a new 
condition : the prescribed quantity of oil in pro- 
portion to the resin, the use of copperas as a dryer, 
and the omission of spirit of turpentine were, by 
degrees, attended to. The " vernice liquida " and 
the amber varnish have thus been made, resembling 


the vehicles which the painters of the fifteenth 
century used. A copal varnish was prepared in 
the same way. The "vemice liquida," or sandarac 
varnish, corresponds in tint with the descriptions of 
Italian and other writers: the amber varnish is 
darker, but either may be mixed with good results 
even with light tints ; greens and blues perhaps ex- 
cepted. De Mayerne observes that the amber var- 
nish used by Gentileschi, though coloured, did not 
spoil white.* 

He might have added, that the first effect of the 
vehicle, which is slightly to warm the tints with 
which it is mixed, is permanent, and does not de- 
generate to what painters call a horny surface. 
Such effects agree with the result of Sheldrake's 
experiments; he remarks that "colours mixed with 
amber, after having been shut up in a drawer for 
several years, lost nothing of their original bril- 
liancy. The same colours tempered with oils, and 
excluded from the air, were so much altered that 
they could scarcely be recognised."! The oil var- 
nishes generally, when well prepared, and with suf- 
ficient body, have all more or less this preserving 

* Vol. i. p. 304, note. The effect of materials of all kinds 
may be counteracted by a peculiar taste and practice. Genti- 
leschi was no colourist, and none would imagine, from the 
coldness of his works, that he was in the habit of using a 
coloured vehicle. In the general appearance of his pictures 
we have at least a proof that the amber varnish does not neces- 
sarily produce either a ** foxy " colouring or a horny surface. 

I Transactions of the Society of Arts, before quoted, (p. 36.) 

B 2 


quality: the different effects of such vehicles, as 
compared with those of the common drying oils 
(which some of them certainly resemble in colour), 
seem to be that the thick consistence of the former, 
in consequence of the resinous ingredient, when 
once dry, tends to fix the particles so that they 
undergo no further change; whereas the ordinary 
thin oils long continue to rise to the surface. 

The colours with which these varnishes are, in 
greater or less proportions, incorporated, should be 
first well ground in the oils before described, using 
the clarified drying oil when necessary ; but, in 
order to reduce the quantity of the oil before 
adding the varnish, it is advisable to place the 
colour on compact blotting-paper, or on a smooth 
piece of plaster-cast ; the superfluous oil is thus 
absorbed, and the varnish may then be mixed with 
the tint in the proportions required. The colours 
may occasionally be ground at once in the varnish, 
but the thickness of the medium renders the opera- 
tion troublesome. 

It is not pretended that there is much of novelty 
in these materials. All who are acquainted with 
the nature of an oil varnish can judge of the pro- 
perties of the more substantial compounds above 
described, and will also be aware of the incon- 
veniences attending their use. To those less fa- 
miliar with preparations of the kind it may be 
necessary to remark that such materials are adapted 
to a particular practice, and that they were em- 


ployed by the early painters in final operations 
only. Their effect is to produce a glossy surface, 
which, as painters well know, is ill calculated for a 
second operation. Yet certain effects in Rem- 
brandt's works were probably the result of skilfully- 
repeated applications of such thick and transparent 
vehicles on a surface not too smooth. 

All oil varnishes have a tendency to flow. In 
marking forms with the brush in transparent darks 
laid in with a copious admixture of amber, san- 
darac, or copal varnish, it is found that such forms 
soon become indistinct, and flow more or less into 
a mass. The defect is best remedied by inserting 
or repeating the markings when the surface begins 
to dry ; they then keep their due sharpness. The 
tendency to flow is more easily counteracted in the 
lights where the substance of the pigment tends to 
arrest and fix the vehicle ; indeed, the sharpest pen- 
cilling remains distinct after a very short time if 
the colour be used in sufficient body. It has been 
seen that the early oil painters applied their lights 
thinly, and in this case the colours would of them- 
selves for a longer time easily flow and blend 
together. This may account for the general ab* 
sence of " hatching " (or working with lines, as in 
a drawing) which is characteristic of the older 
Flemish masters even in small works. It is not 
so generally avoided in early Italian oil pictures — 
a circumstance which will be considered as we 
proceed. What would now be considered an 


inconvenience must have been looked upon as an 
advantage by painters who were accustomed to 
tempera, in which, according to Vasari *, hatching 
with the point of the brush was the ordinaiy mode 
of finishing. The extreme facility of blending the 
mere substance of the pigments, even when thin, 
in the new method, appears to be alluded to by 
the same writer when, in describing the Flemish 
vehicle, he says, *' what appeared to him most 
admirable was that the varnish had the eflfect of 
blending the colours," &c. f 

The tendency to flow which is pecuh'ar to oil 
varnishes (and which, after all, is an evidence of 
their homogeneous consistence) cannot be conve- 
niently corrected by ground glass— a material 
which was used with certain colours by the 
Italians — for that ingredient, when finely pul- 
verised, is equivalent to a white pigment, and 
would altogether destroy the transparency of the 
darks, for which the vehicle is chiefly required. 
The immixture of wax answers better, but this 
ingredient has the eflfect of rendering the varnish 
comparatively dull, and, to say nothing of the 
consequent necessity of a final varnish, diminishes 
to a certain extent, perhaps permanently, the lucid 
depths of the shadows. In order to correct the 
inconvenience adverted to, it is advisable to use 

* Vita di Antonello da Messina. Also Vita di Andrea Man* 
tegna, vol. i. p. 401 ; Vita di Niccolo Soggi, vol. ii. p. 754. 
t lb. 


the pigment itself in due quantity in proportion to 
the varnish : the tendency is arrested by incipient 
desiccation, and the glassy smoothness of the sur- 
face which would be the result of leaving the work 
to itself may be prevented, without impairing its 
gloss.* As one of Van Eyck's principal improve- 
ments was the drying property of his varnish, this 
remedy must have been everywhere rendered eflfec- 
tual according to the exigencies of climate : accord- 
ingly we find that the oil varnishes used in Italy 
were employed partly to assist the drying of the 
dark colours.f 

The defect above pointed out was certainly cor- 
rected by the Italian painters : it is very rare that 
the drop^ indicating the tendency to fiow^ is to be 
detected in their works. In a picture of St. Paul 

♦ It appears from the directions of Cennini {Trattato^ 
c. 1 60), and also from the Romaic MS. (Didron et Durand, 
Manuel (Tlconographie c/iretienne, Paris, 1845, p. 42), that the 
tempera painters were in the habit of laying their pictures flat 
when they applied the " vernice liquida.'' This certainly pre- 
vents the varnish from flowing down, but the surface becomes 
like glass — an appearance which, however desirable in a final 
varnish, is not so agreeable in glazings. It may be obviated 
after such an operation in two modes : either by exposing the 
picture in a horizontal position to the sun, or, more certainly 
and infallibly, by passing an essential oil over the smooth sur- 
face : this has the effect of shrivelling the oleo-resinous coat, 
(See Vol. i. p. 37.) This appearance in a varnish is a defect, 
but the artifice may have been resorted to by painters with a 
view to certain effects in glazing : the result in pictures will 
be again noticed hereafter. 

t Vol. i. p. 304. Ai-menini, De* veri Precetti, pp. 124, 129. 


by Perugino (No. 1355 in the Gallery of the 
Louvre) it is slightly apparent where the green 
drapery meets the red, and on the under side of 
the right arm. Some indications of the kind are 
also to be seen in portions of the blue drapery in 
Raphael's " Belle Jardiniere" (No. 1185 in the same 
collection). On the other hand, in pictures where 
the shadows are painted with much vehicle, the 
marks of the brush are sometimes visible in the 
transparent mass. 

It is only possible, we repeat, to leave such 
traces in an oil varnish, however thick (if un- 
mixed with wax), when the surface is nearly dry. 
Whether the older painters had any other special 
means of arresting the flow of the colour in the 
cases referred to may be a question : the advantage 
of meguilp in this respect will always render it a 
favourite vehicle, notwithstanding its defects; but 
there is no evidence whatever that the old masters 
used it.* 

Whatever limitations may have been observed 
in the immixture, with certain colours, of what was 

* The most remarkable instance of the copious use of me- 
guilp, with which the author is acquainted, is Wilkie*s picture 
of the " Preaching of John Knox." The effect of the ordinary 
mastic varnish on pictures so painted is well known ; see 
Cunningham's Life of Sir David fVilkiCy 1831, vol. iii. 
p. 298. A middle course between the old and the modern 
practice, which artists might now adopt, would be, after using 
meguilp freely, to secure it, in finishing the picture, with an oil 


called the red varnish, that varnish was by no 
means excluded from the flesh tints; on the con- 
trary, the early painters evidently considered that 
the glow, which it could impart to such tints was 
not among the least of its recommendations: its 
presence in any colour to which its tint is not 
directly opposed may, in fact, be said to be equiva- 
lent to sunshine. This, again, may explain an 
expression in Vasari's description of the Flemish 
method — a description which, though apparently 
misunderstood by that writer himself, must have 
been furnished by a good authority — ^when he says 
that the varnish which Van Eyck mixed with the 
tints not only gave them a firm consistence, but 
" kindled the colour to such a degree that it had a 
lustre of its own without the addition of ' vemice.' " * 
Armenini, after recommending that a little '' ver- 
nice comune " should be mixed with a light reddish 
ground-tint which he proposes, says that the in- 
gredient gives the tint "a certain flame-coloured 
appearance." f 

* Vita di Antonello da Messina. 

t De' veri Precetti, p. 125. When Armenini, shortlj be- 
fore, directs that verdigris should biB fortified with *< vernice 
comune," we are to understand the substance properlj so called 
in his time — a compound of linseed oil and common resin. 
This varnish was evidently a mellow golden colour, otherwise 
it could scarcely give to the light reddish ground *' a flame- 
coloured appearance ;" such a tint would by no means render it 
unfit fur greens. For the blues, however, Armenini prescribes 
,thc whiter varnish of mastic and clear nut oil. lb. p. 129. 


If, as we have had reason to conclude, Van Eyck 
used a durable varnish with his flesh tints, this 
may account for a greater apparent thickness in 
such portions of his work than perhaps they really 
possess. It is seldom possible to see the outline 
under his lights — a circumstance which may be 
explained by the fact that the amber varnish pre- 
serves the surface from the effects of the atmo- 
sphere far more effectually than any other vehicle. 
Cennini calls "vernice liquida" the firmest of 
vehicles*, and this would be more literally true if 
he had intended to speak of the amber varnish 
(" vernice liquida gentile "). The apparent solidity 
of the lights in Van Eyck's pictures appears to be 
referable to the power of this last medium. Experi- 
ence has long shown that white lead, when not suffi- 
ciently protected, has a tendency to become semi- 
transparent. If painted even thickly over darks, 
such darks will, after a time — sometimes after a 
few months only — ^become visible through it, giving 
the once white external colour a grey hue. The 
experiment may be easily made by painting over a 
chess-board uniformly with white : at first nothing 
is visible through the pigment, but sooner or later 
the black squares will reappear, showing, in the 
superior brilliancy of the colour occupying the 
white squares, the advantage of a light ground. 
Such experiments exemplify the changes that take 

♦ Trattato, c. 161. 


place in pictures when lights are painted with 
insufficient body over darks, as in making correc- 
tions known by the name of " pentimenti." In the 
usual language of painters, the darks are said to 
" come up," or, as the French express it, " pousser." 
There may be cases where such eflfects really take 
place*, but the usual cause is that above noticed — 
the tendency of the white lead to become trans- 

When, therefore, white and the tints which par- 
take of it are not applied in great body, more 
especially when there is a ground at all darker 
underneath them, such tints are more likely to 
retain their solidity when duly protected by a 
resinous medium. As an example of another 
practice, the St. Catherine by Raphael, in the Na- 
tional Gallery, may be referred to. On examining 
the neck of that figure the lines of the first drawing 
on the white ground will be easily perceived. It 
is not to be supposed that the flesh tint was ori- 
ginally painted so thin as not to exclude those 
lines, it is far more probable that it has gradually 
become transparent in consequence of being painted 
with a vehicle not sufficiently binding. 

The material or mechanical advantages of Van 
Eyck's medium as described by Vasari f — the dry- 
ing property of the varnish, its perfectly hydrofuge 
surface, the firm consistence which its immixture 

* Vol. i. p. 447, note. t Vita di Antonello da Messina. 


with the pigments insured, its effect in kindling 
the colours, its permanent lustre, its tendency to 
promote the fusion of the tints — are all applicable to 
the amber varnish, and, in various degrees, to the 
oil-varnishes generally when duly prepared; but, 
in most of the above respects, to no medium with- 
out either a resinous ingredient or a resinous prin- 
ciple. The vehicle was the vehicle of a colourist, 
and in the hands of the Flemish artist and his best 
followers it produced warmth, force, and transpa- 
rency. The chief peculiarity of the method which 
it involved was that the picture, properly so called, 
required to be executed " alia prima ; " the colours 
which needed no varnish at last were themselves 
equivalent to a varnish ; and the painting, however 
gradually and exquisitely wrought, was only a 
final process applied to a carefully finished design, 
prepared like a drawing, or, when dead coloured, in 
little more than chiaroscuro.* 

Making every allowance for the facilities which 
Van Eyck's system afforded to painters even mode- 
rately gifted as colourists, it would be absurd to 
suppose that all were qualified to take advantage of 
that system. Of the painters who first adopted 
the method, many saw in it only the recommenda- 
tion of durability, or a novelty which had attracted 
the attention of the rich. Antonello da Messina, 
though constant to the method, himself compre- 

• Vol. i. pp. 380, 381, 395. 


hended but little of its power; and the allusion, in 
his epitaph, to the "splendour as well as dura- 
bility " which he had been the means of imparting 
to Italian painting, rather points him out as the 
cause than the example of the excellence which 

We now resume the history of the method, and 
of the modifications which it underwent in Italy. 

Resistance to humidity was the original recom- 
mendation of oil painting in its rudest form, and 
dictated its applications.* The method, both in 
its early state and with the improvements which 
Van Eyck had introduced, was employed in Italy, 
from first to last, and at first exclusively, for 
standards carried in religious processions in the 
open air; for canopies (baldacchini)^ also so used ; 
for caparisons (barde) of horses; and for similar 
purposes.f For a long period after the new pro- 

• A receipt for protecting (tempera) painting with thick- 
ened oil " ut aqua deleri non possit/' occurs in a MS. of the 
12th century. See Vol. i. p. 19. 

t The instances in Vasari are numerous. See the Lives of 
LucA Signorelli, Domenico Pecori, Girolamo Genga, &c. It 
'was reserved for the biographer to assert that oil pictures are 
spared by the lightning. At a time when amber (elektron) 
entered into the materials of painting, he might have carried 
his theory farther. The following passage occurs in his Life 
of Raffaellino del Garbo : " una saetta .... casc6 vicino a 
questa tavola, la quale per essere lavorato a olio, non offese 
niente, ma dove ella pass6 accanto all' ornamento messo d' oro, 
lo consumb quel vapore, lasciando il semplice bolo senza oro. 
Mi k pjirso scrivere questo a proposito del dipignere a olio, 


cess was known, the higher aims of art found their 
expression chiefly in tempera — ^a method which, 
however defective in some respects, was at least 
not open to objection, south of the Alps, on ac- 
count of its liability to decay. In Flanders, on the 
contrary, tempera was soon acted on by damp;* 
and hence oil painting, for fine works of art as well 
as for common purposes, was there the result of 
necessity. These diflferent conditions of climate 
explain both the earlier demand for oil painting in 
the North, and the long indifference of the Italians 
even to the improved method of Van Eyck, when 
it was proposed to apply it to purposes for which it 
was not absolutely necessary. 

It might, at that time, be concluded that a 
method of painting which was proof against ex- 
ternal damp would be best adapted for walls ; at 
all events, it was at once resolved to try it in that 
mode. There were sufficient grounds, as we have 
seen, for not, at first, employing it for movable 
pictures on wood; it must have appeared inju- 
dicious, in the state of opinion at the time, to 
attempt to introduce it for such purposes: the 
customary method adopted for altar-pieces — that of 
tempera — was not only found to be sufficiently 
durable, but was perhaps better fitted for the partial 

accib 81 veda quanto importi sapere difendersi da simile in- 
giuria ; e uon solo a questa opera V ha fatto, ma a molte 

• Vol. i. p. 550. 


gilding sometimes added to such works. The 
decay of paintings on walls was, on the other hand, 
much more common*, and hence any method which 
promised a greater durability on such surfaces 
-would, it might be presumed, be welcomed at 
once. There were reasons — then not suspected, 
and indeed, as will hereafter api)ear, not rightly 
understood even by the later Italians — why oil 
paintings on solid walls could not preserve the 
brilliancy of their tints for any length of time, 
though the works themselves might last for ages ; 
but if this had been noticed in extoiples of the 
coarse oil painting before practised, it might still be 
supposed that the new method would be free from 
such defects. 

Among the different methods employed by the 
Flemish painters in beginning their works on panel, 
and which have already been described at length, 
the most usual was that corresponding with the 
process recommended by Cennini in commencing 
wall paintings in oil. The design being carefully 
completed on the ground, a coat of size (and after- 
wards, generally, a thin warm tint in oil which 
did not conceal the outline) was passed over it.f 
Another mode was to apply an oil priming first, 
and to draw in the subject upon it. J 

The opinion of Leon Battista Alberti respecting 

♦ Vasari, Vita di Simone e Lippo Memmi ; Vita di Tom- 
maso detto II Giottino ; Vita di Antonio Veneziano, &c. 
t Vol. i. pp. 384, 386. J lb. p. 390. 


oil painting on walls may have been recorded about 
this time ; he died in 1 472. His words are : — " There 
is a new invention, in which all kinds of colours 
applied with linseed oil are proof against all effects 
of the atmosphere ; provided the wall on which they 
are spread be dry and perfectly free from moisture 
[within]."* This notice, imperfect as it is, of a 
then recently practised method (for Alberti cannot 
allud^ to the common oil painting which had been 
in use for centuries) is important. 

Another contemporary writer already quoted — 
Antonio Filarete, sculptor and architect — ogives a 
more detailed account of the new method. His 
manuscript treatise was completed, as we have had 
reason to conclude, in 1464. 

After briefly noticing the process of fresco and 
the mode of rounding forms by light and shade, 
he thus proceeds : — " And you are to follow the 
same system in tempera; in oil, also, all these 
colours may be applied, but this is a different 
labour and a different process — a process which is 
certainly beautiful in the hands of those who dare 
to practise it. In Germany they work well in this 
method : Maestro Giovanni [Van Eyck] of Bruges 
especially [excelled in it], and Maestro Ruggieri; 

* << Novum inventum oleo linaceo colores quos veils inducere 
contra omnes aeris et coeli injurias eternos: modo siccus et 
minimeuliginosussit paries ubi inducantur," — Lcodis Baptistse 
Alberti Florentini, Libri de re adificatoria decern. — Parrhisiis, 
1512, 1. b. c. 9. 


(Rogier van der Weyde) both of whom employed 
these colours admirably. Q. Tell me in what mode 
painters work with this oil, and what oil they use : if 
that of linseed, is it not very dark for the purpose ? 
A. Yes; but the dar'k colour may be removed. I 
am not acquainted with the mode, unless it be to 
place the oil in a vase, and suffer it to remain un- 
disturbed a long time ; it thus becomes lighter in 
tint: some, indeed, say there is a quicker mode. 
Q. Let that pass; what is the mode of working? 
A. The gesso with which your panel is prepared, or 
the mortar (if you work on a wall) being dry, you 
give a coat of colour ground in oil. White answers 
for this purpose, and if any other tint [be mixed 
with it] it is of no importance what colour is used. 
This ground being prepared, draw your design upon 
it with very fine lines and in the manner which I 
before described, and then paint the sky upon it.* 
Then, with white, paint everything which you have 
to represent with a sort of shade of white, whether 
you have to represent figures, buildings, animals, 
or trees, whatever you have to execute, express its 
form with this white. It should be well ground 
(indeed all colours should be well ground; and 
every time let them dry well, in order that each 
payer] may incorporate well with the other). 

* The painting of the sky, apparently in its own colour, 
while the rest was to be prepared in chiaroscuro, reminds us 
of the unfinished Van Ejck — the St. Barbara — in the museum 
at Antwerp. Vol. i. p. 414. 



And thus, having with this white defined all the 
forms for what is to come upon them, prepare the 
shadows with the tint you prefer, and then when 
all is dry give a thin coat of the colour which is to 
clothe the preparation, and round the forms more 
completely, heightening with white or with any 
other tint that will harmonise with that which you 
have given to the object ; and thus you will 
treat all the objects which you wish to represent. 
And on walls also you must proceed in this same 
manner." * 

* " . . . et cosi sea afare a tempa et anche aoglio sipossono 
mettere tutti questi colon ma questa e altra fatica et altro 
modo il qiiale e bello chi losa fare. Nellamagna silavora bene 
inquesta forma maxime dacquello maestro giovanni dabruggia 
et Maestro Ruggieri iquali anno adopato optimamente questi 
color! aolio. dimi inche modo silavora con questo olio e cLe 
olio e questo olio sie diseme dilino none egli molto obscuro. si 
maseglitoglie ilmodo nonso senon mettilo intro una amoretta 
et lasciarvelo stare uno buono tempo eglisischiarisce vero e 
che dice chece elmodo affare piu presto, lasciamo andare 11 
lavorare come si fa. prima sulatua tavola ingessata overamente 
imuro che sia lacalcina vuole essere seccha et poi una mano 
di colore macinato aolio sella biaccha e buona et anche fosse 
altro colore non monta niente che colore sisia et fatto questo 
disegnia il tuo piano cdlinie sottilissime e conqu elmodo chedi- 
nanzi tidissi poi fa laere insuquesto poi colbianco ditutto quello 
che vuoi fare da come dire una ombra dibianco cioe che tu o 
figure ocasamenti o animal! o arbor! o qualche cosa chetu abb! 
afare da laforma con questa biaccha et chesia bene macinata 
et cosi tutt! glialtri colori sieno bene macinati et ogni volta 
glilascia ben secchare pche sincorpori bene luno coUaltro et 
cosi data questa mano dibiaccha aile forme di tutto quello 
chcYuoi fare suvi et tu conquegl! color! conche tu vuoi fare 


There can be little doubt that this account was 
derived from a personal examination of the first 
oil paintings executed by Italians, according to the 
improved method, in Florence. The passage occurs 
in book xxiv. (consequently very near the end) of 
the Magliabechian copy of the MS., and is not in 
the Palatine copy. The completion of the former 
in the autumn of 1464 appears to be a sufficient 
ground for fixing the date of the memorandum in 
that year. 

The only other hypothesis at all admissible is, 
that Filarete, who had been employed as an archi- 
tect at Milan, may there have become acquainted 
with Antonello da Messina, and may have obtained 
some imperfect information from him. This, how- 
ever, is not very probable, as the writer (as we have 
seen, p. 23) omits to mention that painter in a list 
of the worthies of his day who were known to him. 
At all events, this is the earliest Italian description 
of oil painting which can be supposed to have any 
reference to Van Eyck's method. 

r ombra* poi con una mano sotile di quello colore che tu lai 
ayestire dagliene una coperta sottile quando latua ombra e 
seccha et tu poi lameni rilevando colbiauco o conaltro colore 
chesiconfaccia conquello che dato ai alia tua figura et cosi farai 
atutte letue cose cliedipingere insuquesto vuoi et auche insul- 
muro acquesto medesimo modo bisognia fare." 

* In order to give a passable construction to this passage, it 
is necessary either to read " fane " or " farai " for " fare," or, 
without altering anything, to consider " ombra " as the impera- 
tive of ombrare : " V ombra " for ombralo, 

F 2 


The reason, in this instance, for painting as well 
as drawing the chiaroscuro design has been already 
explained. Such an under-painting (representing 
the finished and shaded drawing then commonly 
preferred on panels) required to be executed with 
a thin vehicle, and, if possible, without gloss, the 
more fitly to receive the oil varnishes with which 
the colours, properly so called, were applied. 

Filarete was evidently ignorant of the nature of 
the vehicles employed in the final process ; but the 
information which he wanted is supplied in a de- 
scription of wall painting which is given by Vasari, 
and repeated by Borghini. The former says: — 
*' When it is proposed to paint in oil on the dry 
wall, two modes [of preparing the wall maybe 
adopted]. One is as follows : — If the wall has been 
whitened, either in fresco or in any other mode, it 
is scraped ; or if, being covered with mortar only, 
it have a smooth surface, boiled oil is passed over 
it two or three times, or till it will absorb no more. 
When this is dry, a priming should be spread over 
the surface, as explained in the preceding chapter. 
This being dry, the design may be either traced or 
drawn upon it ; after which the work may be com- 
pleted as in painting on wood, always using a little 
* vemice ' mixed with the tints, because by this 
means there is no necessity for varnishing the work 
at last."* 

^ " Quando gli artefici vogliono lavorare a olio in sul muro 
sccco, due maniei*e possono tenere : una con fare che il muro, 


The description of the other mode of preparing 
the wall is here unimportant. 

Borghini's directions are nearly the same. He 
merely observes, as Vasari does elsewhere, that the 
colours had better be ground in nut oil, as it yel- 
lows less than that of linseed. He then directs that 
a little " vemice " should be mixed with the tints.* 

Thus, in and after the middle of the sixteenth 
century (the date of the two writers last quoted), 
the Flemish process survived at Florence in the 
application of oil painting to peculiar purposes 
only. Had those writers left no details of the 
method of painting on wood or on cloth, it might 
be inferred from the passages cited that the oil 
varnish was also commonly employed in works of 
that kind ; but, in descriptions of such applications 
of oil painting, they say nothing whatever of mix- 

se vi h dato su il bianco o a fresco o in altro modo, si raschi, o, 
se egli h restato liscio senza bianco ma intonacato, vi si dia su 
due o tre mani di olio boUito e cotto, continuando a ridarvelo 
8u, sine a tanto che non voglia piu bere ; e poi secco, se gli 
da di mestica o imprimitura^ come si disse nel capitolo avanti a 
questo. Ci5 fatto e secco, possono gli artefici calcare o dise* 
gnare, e tale opera come la tavola condurre al fine, tenendo 
mescolato continuo nei colori un poco di vernice, perch^ fa- 
cendo questo non accade poi verniciarla." — Introduzione, c. 

* '* Dando i colori, temperate con olio di noce o di linseme 
(ma meglio fia di noce, perch^ % piu sottile, e non ingialla i 
colori, ne' quali fia bene mescolare un poco di yernice), con- 
ducerte con diligenza a fine V opera vostra, laquale non acca- 
derk yerniciarla."— i7 Reposoy Milano, 1807, vol. i. p. 202. The 
first edition is dated 1584. 


ing varnish with the colours.* It appears, there- 
fore, that the Florentine contemporaries of Vasari, 
looking merely at the quality of durability, had by 
degrees considered such a use of varnish to be un- 
necessary, except when, as in the case specified, 
the work was exposed to damp. In this gradual 
restriction, in Florence, of the Flemish method 
(when employed on the higher objects of art) to 
Avail painting, we recognise a proof of the general 
fitness of that method for a severer climate. Under 
circumstances which, in certain seasons, approxi- 
mated to the conditions of a northern atmosphere, 
the art of the North was retained without change. 
It is only remarkable that the origin and intention 
of its technical peculiarities were so far lost sight 
of at the period referred to, that Vasari explains 
the admixture of varnish with the colours merely 
by observing that it rendered a final varnish un- 
necessary. Meanwhile, the advantages of the pro- 
cess in a higher sense — the richness of shadows 
and low tones, the general glow which it could 
impart, and the force which it at once compelled 
and assisted — were in danger of being forgotten. 

Though accepted at first by few, the art began 
with a fairer promise. The original method ap- 
pears to have been implicitly followed in Florence 

• Borghini expressly prohibits any vehicles in addition to 
nut oil : — ^' Chi volesse dipingere a olio in tavola . • . colorisca 
CO* colori temperati con olio di noce, senza piii.** — 11 Reposoy 
vol. i. p. 203. 


and the neighbouring schools for a considerable 
time by several painters. The first whom we have 
to notice is Antopio Pollaiuolo ; of his surviving 
works the picture which most invites attention is 
the celebrated St. Sebastian, of which we have 
spoken (p. 18). This early specimen of Florentine 
oil painting is still in excellent preservation. Its 
surface has, at some not very recent period, been 
indented but scarcely perforated, by what appear 
to be small shot-marks. These, with the usual 
warping of the planks of which the " tavola " is 
composed, and a few scratches, are the only in- 
juries. The minute pits or bruises have here and 
there been filled up, but the picture exhibits little 
appearance of repainting. 

It is quite evident that this work was painted at 
once on a warm light ground. There was no solid 
chiaroscuro preparation, and there is no indication 
of a dead colour. With the exception of a slight 
change in an outline, no part appears to have been 
retouched. There is np appearance of "hatching ;" 
the generally thin substance of the pigments is 
blended, the tints fused. Certain portions are, how- 
ever, painted with great precision, as, for example, 
the wrinkles on the older figures, and even the grain 
of the skin on the back of one of their hands. The 
darks are, almost without exception, more pro- 
minent than the lights, and, from the effects of 
time, are now rough and blistered. Even the dark 
trees in the distant landscape are all, as it were, 


embossed, in consequence of being painted with a 
thick medium. The lights have remained smooth, 
and free from cracks ; the minuier lights only are 
raised; the minute darks have the same appear- 
ance; the drops of blood, for instance, on the 
martyr have the relief of real drops. 

The *' Virtues " by PoUaiuolo, before mentioned 
(p. 17), are inferior specimens of the master, but 
they have the same general characteristics. The 
darks are prominent and are now corroded. The 
flesh is thinly painted : this last peculiarity is almost 
universal in the early Italian as in the early Flemish 
pictures, and indicates the careful completion of 
such portions, at once, on the light ground. Light 
skies are often more loaded; in them the thicker 
"vernice chiara" was commonly used, which in- 
creased their apparent body ; they appear, however, 
to have been really painted with more substance 
to insure their luminous effect, and this must have 
been more necessary when the ground was tinted. 
In the flesh, on the contrary, the tint which was 
sometimes used for the ground was calculated to 
assist the colour *, while the warmer and somewhat 
thinner varnish was used. In the- two pictures 
by PoUaiuolo representing the " Acts of Hercules," 
the flesh is as usual thin, while the light sky and 
all the darks are raised. 

The examples that have been adduced are suf- 
ficient to show that the earliest specimens of oil 

• Vol. i. p. 393. 


painting produced in Florence were executed 
strictly according to the Flemish process, and, if 
not in every case with the same vehicle, with a 
nearly equivalent one, employed partly from choice 
and certainly on the same principles. Those prin- 
ciples contained the germ of the best practice: 
the thin painting of the flesh may be reckoned 
among the defects ; but even this habit was partly 
a consequence of looking upon such portions of the 
work as belonging to the class of low tones, and 
requiring, like all such tones, to be more or less 
transparent. The defect was sooner remedied in 
Italy than in the North : there, we seldom find the 
lighter flesh-tints solidly painted till the age of 
Rubens and Rembrandt. Another occasional de- 
fect, before adverted to, common to the early 
Flemish masters and their Italian followers, was 
that of shading the preparatory drawing to the 
exclusion of the light ground where it was wanted 
most: but this is a question of degree; a shade 
tint which is sufficient to indicate the chiaroscuro 
of a work, before the actual painting is begun, may 
still be light enough to give value to the trans- 
parent shadows afterwards inserted.* In other 

♦ Internal light in the obscurer portions of a picture, by 
whatever means that transparency is obtained or represented, is 
indispensable to richness of effect. Without it, force dege- 
nerates to blackness, and darkness is no longer equivalent to 
depth. Yasari justly remarks that no ultimate varnish could 
give depth to the black shadows of Giulio Romano : — '* Questo 
nero fa perdere e smarrire la maggior parte delle faticbe die 


respects Antonio Pollaiuolo followed with advan- 
tage the Flemish system, and transmitted it unim- 
paired to the great artists who succeeded him. 

One great peculiarity of the system, and of which 
he felt the value, was the abundant use of the thick 
yet lucid vehicle in the darks : whUe these retained 
their surface and gloss they must have given to his 
works a richness then new in the art.* The ap- 
pearances of this kind above noticed in his works 
now enable us to pronounce that an oil varnish of 
the ordinary kind (sandarac and linseed oil, called 

vi sono dentro, conciossiach^ il nero, ancorch^ sia verniciato, 
fa perdere il buono," &c- — Vita di Giulio Romano. 

* The early oil painters saw in the method the qualities 
opposed to tempera ; when portions executed in oil had been 
introduced in tempera pictures (ornaments, gems, &c.), the 
quality aimed at and attained in those portions was that of 
depth — depth, in the positive and real sense of seeing colour 
or light in and through a lustrous, transparent, but thick 
substance, for the oils and varnishes then used had an almost 
honey-like body. This actual representation of depth (as 
distinguished from the imitation of atmosphere, distance, and 
roundness) is the essential and original characteristic of oil 
painting. By later masters it was applied to assist the ex- 
pression of space, as in shadow, but it was also used to give 
the charm of depth to all colours, to flesh, and even to stone 
and to wood. Among the masters who felt this most, so as 
sometimes to carry it to excess, may be named Correggio, 
Rembrandt, and Reynolds (the latter here named with refer- 
ence solely to this quality, and irrespective of any merits or 
defects of other kinds). The " Annunciation " by Pollaiuolo 
at Berlin, with all its defects, has the richness and depth of 
the most consummate oil painters : not ft*om the expression of 
distance and space, for in this perhaps it fails, but from the 
mechanical real effect of a transparent vehicle used over light 
with all the colours. 


"vernice liquida") was used probably in all the 
colours except the sky, but especially in the darks. 
Had the firmer amber varnish been employed, the 
surface of the raised shadows would not have been 
affected in the mode described ; or at least not to 
that extent. The known durability even of the 
"vemice liquida" appears to have given it an 
almost equal reputation in the eyes of the Italians, 
and a Florentine had pronounced it to be "the 
strongest vehicle there is." For works not likely 
to be exposed to any extraordinary trials — such 
trials as being kept at all seasons and for ages 
within churches — ^this sandarac oil varnish (greatly 
to be recommended for its tint and lustre) may be 
considered an all-sufficient vehicle ; but as regards 
the question of actual durability, there is no doubt 
that the amber varnish is unsurpassed. With re- 
gard to the estimation in which its rival was held 
in Italy it must be remembered that while used 
only as a varnish for tempera pictures it was not 
applied in much body; and when, as must have 
happened in the lapse of time or from unusual 
exposure to the vicissitudes of heat and cold, the 
oleo-resinous coating cracked, such a result pro- 
duced no serious change in the effect of the work, 
which, in extreme cases, could be cleaned and then 
varnished afresh.* In the course of our investi- 
gations we shall, however, have abundant proof, 

* Didron et Darand, Manuel, &c., p. 43. The words trans- 
lated ** eau forte ** are explained (Introduction, p. xxxiv.) to 
mean the '^ eau seconde de potasse." 


from the decay that has taken place in the rich 
shadows of excellent pictures, that the Italians 
placed too much confidence in this favourite ve- 
hicle: the lavish use of a semi-resinous medium 
where, certainly, it was most required — in the 
transparent darks, and, in another form, to protect 
certain colours — was ill calculated to resist the 
Italian summer atmosphere, still less the occasional 
action of the sun's rays.* The question of the 
influence of climate on the technical peculiarities 
of the arts would lead to deeper inquiries than we 
can here indulge in; thus much, however, may be 
confidently affirmed, that the richness of texture 

* Sucb effects of the san's rajs are not confined to Italy ; 
the fine picture of Rabens with his wife and child at Blenheim 
is remarkable for the quantitj of yehicle with which the mass 
of shade in the drapery is painted. This portion is now 
riddled with cracks, in consequence of the picture having been 
formerly in a situation where it was partially exposed to the sun. 

The influence of heat on resinous compounds is too often 
exemplified in church pictures by the effect of the altar candles 
on portions of the work that have been nearest to them. The 
lower portion of Titian's picture of the Assumption, formerly 
in the Frari at Venice, was seriously injured in the centre from 
this cause, and the figure seated on the sarcophagus required to 
be in a great measure repainted in consequence. Richardson 
{fVorks^ vol. ii. p. 34) says that Raphael's St. Cecilia was 
" fried ** in the parts nearest to the cnndles. Yasari informs 
us that the doors painted by Liberale Veronese to protect an 
early picture of the Madonna in S. Maria della Scala, at Verona, 
were injured from the same cause, and the triptych was placed 
in the sacristy for safety. Lastly, a work by Granacci was 
burnt by the candles inadvertently lef% on an altar. — Vita di 
Fra Giocondo ; Vita di Francesco Granacci. 


which, as a result of finn yet transparent vehicles, 
a Rembrandt could produce with safety, and even, 
in a material sense, with advantage, in the climate 
of the Netherlands, often led to premature decay 
in the works of some of the best Italian colourists. 
Undoubtedly, the evil might have been arrested by 
ordinary care on the part of those to whom the 
conservation of such works was entrusted; and as 
this is, or should be, an easy condition, we conclude 
that the later Italian painters had no just ground, 
in the experience of their climate and its effects, 
for abandoning the technical characteristics of the 
Flemish method. Such objectors, nevertheless, 
there were : not only was oil painting denuded of 
its best attributes by those later Florentines who 
suggested or adopted the precepts of Borghini, but 
examples were not wanting of painters who alto- 
gether condemned and abandoned the method. At a 
period in the sixteenth century, when the finest ex- 
amples of oil painting had been produced, Domenico 
Beccafumi returned to tempera, from a persuasion 
that the more modern process was not durable.* 

* " E perch^ aveva Domenico opiDione che le cose coloriie a 
tempera si mantenessero meglio che quelle colorite a olio, 
dicendo che gli pareva, che piu fussero invecchiate le cose di 
Loca da Cortona, de' Pollaiuolo, e degli altri maestri che in 
quel tempo lavorarono a olio, che quelle di Fra Filippo, di 
Benoz20, e degli altri che colorirono a tempera innanzi a questi, 
per questOy dico, si risolv^, avendo a fare una tavola per la 
compagnia di S. Bernardino in sn la piazza di S. Francesco, di 
farla a tempera.'*— Vasari, Vita di Domenico Beccafumi, 




The works of Antonio PoUaiuolo, considered as oil 
paintings, and independently of their merit in 
design, were far from exciting universal admiration 
among the artists of Florence, or of the neigh- 
bouring schools, but there were some of the then 
rising generation who looked at these works with 
deeper interest, and who were at once attracted by 
the new method. 

About the year 1475, when the St. Sebastian by 
PoUaiuolo was completed, three young men, after- 
wards celebrated, were studying with Andrea 
Verocchio. These were Pietro Perugino (born 
about 1446)*, Leonardo da Vinci (born 1452), and 

* Yasari's statement that Perugino studied for a time with 
Verocchio has been doubted bj some modern historians, partly 
on account of the very little resemblance to be traced between 
the stjle and aim of the two artists ; but the authority of an 
interesting contemporary writer — Giovanni Sanzio, the father 
of Raphael — may be considered a cojroboration of Vasari's 
assertion. In a poem on the Acts of Federigo da Montefeltro, 


Lorenzo di Credi (born 1453). The first-named 
was then twenty-nine years of age ; Leonardo da 
Vinci was twenty-three, and Lorenzo di Credi was a 
year younger than Leonardo. Their instructor, 
Andrea Verocchio, was a sculptor, who handled the 
brush only occasionally, and not even very success- 
fully ; in other respects, and especially as a designer, 
his influence on the subsequent direction of the 
Florentine school was both marked and beneficial. 
His well-studied contours for a battle, in which the 
combatants were naked, probably suggested the 
idea of the celebrated cartoon by Michael Angelo 
of the " Bathing Soldiers " suddenly called to the 
field. Verocchio is said to have been one of the 
first who took casts from nature, and the practice 
indicates a desire to master the difficulties of 
modelling. He was, in short, well qualified to 
teach the knowledge of form and anatomy — studies 
no less essential to a painter than to those of his 
own profession. To all appearance the first ardent 
admirers and successful cultivators of the new art 
of oil painting were thus, at the time when their 
predilections were manifested, qualifying themselves 
to be skilfiil designers; but their subsequent prac- 
tice does not altogether confirm this. Of the three 

which is preserved in the Vatican Library, Giovanni allades to 
the friendship between Leonardo da Vinci and Perugino when 
young men, and, as we may conclude, fellow-students in Flo- 
rence : — " Due giovin par d' etate e par d' amori, Leonardo da 
Vinci e '1 Perusino, Pier della Pieve, che son divin pittori." 


painters above named, Leonardo was the only one 
who, partly by Verocchio's instructions and ex- 
ample, had acquired a thorough knowledge of the 
human figure and great skill in modelling. If he 
equalled his teacher in these respects, he soon sur- 
passed him as a painter. An altar-piece in which, 
while yet a youth, he assisted Verocchio, is preserved 
in the gallery of the Academy at Florence, and it is 
related that the figure of an attendant angel, added 
by the scholar, was considered so superior to the 
rest of the work, that Andrea, in his mortification, 
determined to abandon the pencil for ever. 

It is, indeed, on many grounds probable that 
whatever Perugino and Lorenzo di Credi learnt of 
painting while they were in the school of Verocchio 
was chiefly derived from Leonardo. As regards 
Lorenzo especially, this is confirmed by the cha- 
racter of his works. At an early period he copied 
a picture by Leonardo so closely that the original 
could not be distinguished; the predilection was 
lasting, and his style, firom first to last, was formed 
on that of his fellow-student. The friendship of 
Leonardo and Perugino during their youth has 
been already adverted to (see note, p. 78), but 
the elder artist seems to have borrowed little from 
Leonardo except a more refined taste in expression. 
The secret of the intimacy is however sufficiently 
explained by their common study of oil painting 
at a time when that method had been adopted 
by few. 


Lorenzo di Credi's style and practice, in imita- 
tion of Leonardo, must have been formed previous 
to 1480, about which time Leonardo quitted Flo- 
rence for Milan, where he remained till near the 
close of the century. The eight or ten years 
immediately preceding 1480, therefore, define the 
period when the Flemish method of oil painting 
was first studied by the scholars of Verocchio. 
The process was gradually modified by each of 
them, but, as will appear, most so by Leonardo. 
That enterprising spirit, far from looking coldly on 
the new art, eagerly and early adopted it ; and it 
was apparently through his example that his com- 
panions forgot their prejudices, and became warmly 
interested in the pursuit. Each, however, according 
to his character and views, recognised in it peculiar 
advantages. In the eyes of Leonardo the method 
had two great recommendations — that of enabling 
him to correct his forms and expressions to the last 
degree of accuracy and truth, and that of furnishing 
the means of closely imitating the relief and force 
of nature. Lorenzo di Credi, if attracted also by 
these qualities, was still more smitten with the 
fusion of tints and the finish which the method 
promised; while Perugino was more alive than 
either to the transparency and warmth which it 
could command. The tradition of the mere art 
could no longer be a secret; Antonio Pollaiuolo 
had many disciples, and the process was now in the 
hands of too many to continue to be monopolised. 



Lorenzo di Credi, who, in the practice of painting, 
could have felt little in common with Verocchio, 
was, nevertheless, sincerely attached to him; he 
remained with him assisting in the direction of his 
affairs after the departure of Leonardo and Peru- 
gino, and when Verocchio died in Venice in 1488, 
from the fatigue he underwent in casting his eques- 
trian statue of Bartolommeo da Bergamo, Lorenzo 
hastened thither, and brought back his remains to 

Though the occasion of his short stay in Venice 
must have allowed but little opportunity for obser- 
vation, Lorenzo could not, as a painter, be insensible 
to the interest of the place. At that time Anto- 
nello da Messina was in fiill employment there, and 
had produced his masterwork — the altar-piece of 
S. Cassiano. The very year (1488) of Lorem^p's 
visit was marked by the completion of two cele- 
brated works (hereafter to be described) by 
Giovanni Bellini, in which the first promise was 
given of that powerful and glowing colour after- 
wards carried to perfection in the works of Gior- 
gione — then only eleven years of age. Lorenzo's 
practice was formed, and it does not appear that 
it was essentially altered in consequence of this 
experience, but the enthusiasm which now began 
to prevail in Venice for the new method must have 
confirmed his predilection for it. 

The early pictures in tempera by Lorenzo di 
Credi are seldom interesting; he was an example 


of those to whom Vasari may be supposed to allude 
in his general notice of the introduction of oil paint- 
ing — tempera painters who longed for a method 
which should supersede the necessity of finishing 
with the point, and which, with the requisite preci- 
sion, should command an imperceptible blending 
of the tints. The qualities which recommended 
the new process to Lorenzo may be said to charac- 
terise all his oil pictures. One of the best, repre- 
senting St. Julian and St. Nicholas standing beside 
the enthroned Madonna, is now in the Louvre ; and 
of this Vasari says, '* Whoever would be convinced 
that careful processes in oil painting are essential 
to the durability of the work, should look at this 
picture." Two excellent specimens, both repre- 
senting the Nativity, are in the gallery of the 
Uffizj at Florence. All these works have the same 
technical characteristics: there is no "hatching" 
in any part ; the flesh tints, though quite as smooth 
as those of the earlier masters, are much more 
solid, but notwithstanding this solidity the darks 
are more raised than the lights. In the Louvre 
picture above mentioned (the only specimen of the 
master in the collection), the blues and greens are, 
as usual, prominent ; the left hand of St. Nicholas, 
for example, is quite embedded in the blue cover 
of the book he holds. In some cases the prominent 
shadows, like those in Pollaiuolo's St. Sebastian, 
and in his single figures of " Virtues," are blistered 
and corroded, and consequently rough. 

G 2 


Lorenzo's system of dead colouring, as distin- 
guished from the original Flemish practice, may be 
inferred from the appearance of his pictures, in 
which the ground is almost entirely excluded, and 
from the fact of his having left many half-finished 
works at his death. A certain conscientious feeling, 
agreeing with his character in other respects (for 
he was among the followers of Savonarola), influ- 
enced even his practice in art ; and his love of finish 
was rather encouraged than checked by Leonardo 
da Vinci, though that great artist, in his own 
elaborate works, was fastidious with a higher aim. 
The extreme care and delicacy of Lorenzo's execu- 
tion are, however, not to be regarded as an 
imitation of the earlier Italian examples of oil 
painting which he had seen. The works of Antonio 
PoUaiuolo are so far bold and decided that, even 
when of large dimensions, they are painted at 
once and without retouching; the pictures of 
Lorenzo were the result of repeated and slow 

With this explanation thp remarkable description 
of this painter's habits which Vasari has left may 
not be uninteresting: — "He was so finished and 
delicate in his works," says that writer, " that every 
other picture compared with his will always appear 
a sketch, and coarsely executed. ... He was not 
desirous of undertaking many large works, as he 
took infinite pains in bringing such to completion. 
The colours which he employed were ground to the 


last degree of fineness; he purified and distilled his 
oils, prepared from walnuts ; the tints on his palette 
were very numerous, so much so that they ex- 
tended through all gradations from the first light 
tint to the deepest dark with a needless regularity : 
the consequence was that sometimes he had five 
and twenty or thirty tints on a palette, and for each 
tint he kept a different pencU. When he was at 
work he would not sufier the least movement which 
could stir any dust. Such an extreme nicety is no 
more to be commended," gravely adds the biogra- 
pher, " than an extreme negligence." 

In his preference of nut oil to the exclusion, it 
seems, of that of linseed, Lorenzo di Credi resembled 
Leonardo : the expression *'he distilled" ("stillava") 
may only relate to the process of filtering, which 
was not uncommon ; but as Leonardo certainly dis- 
tilled the oils, including even the fixed oil he used, 
by means of fire, the word is perhaps in the above 
passage to be taken in its literal sense. It is 
scarcely necessary to observe that, as regards the 
fixed oils, it was a useless refinement. But 
wherever modifications of the Flemish process may 
have been introduced or adopted by Lorenzo di 
Credi, he preserved one peculiarity unaltered : this 
was the abundant use of the "vemice" in his 
darks. As already observed, the common " vemice 
liquida " was considered by the Italians extremely 
durable, and no less so than the amber varnish 
(though this was certainly a mistake). This can 


alone account for the circumstance that so scrupu- 
lous a workman did not on all occasions prefer the 

As the more innovating technical habits of Lorenzo 
di Credi appear to have been derived from his fellow- 
scholar, it is to be regretted that so few certain 
works by Leonardo da Vinci, belonging to the 
period of his first residence in Florence, should be 
preserved. The earliest example is the angel before 
mentioned in Verocchio's altar-piece, representing 
the Baptism of Christ, now in the gallery of the 
Florentine Academy. But for the addition by the 
scholar, it would not be easy to determine whether 
the work is in tempera or in oil, as portions only 
exhibit the peculiarities of the latter method. The 
figure of Leonardo's angel has, however, more body 
than the rest of the picture, and is free from 
"hatching," while the portions executed by Ve- 
rocchio frequently betray the use of the point. In 
the figure in question, again, the darks are promi- 
nent, and some blue drapery is, as usual, more 
raised than any other part. This picture long 
remained forgotten in a church near Vallombrosa, 
and was only brought to light in 1812; it has 
therefore sufiered considerably. 

The celebrated Medusa's head in the gallery of 
the Uffizj has been doubted by a writer of no 


ordinary authority*, but his opiaion has not been 
confirmed by that of any other connoisseur. 
Technically considered, the work corresponds suffi- 
ciently with the accredited specimens of the master, 
and is painted with an equal body of colour. In 
the same gallery, and underneath the Medusa, is 
a portrait of a young man also attributed, but 
hardly on sufficient grounds, to Leonardo. It is 
solid, like the works of Lorenzo di Credi, yet there 
is evidence of its being painted on a light ground. 
The darks are, as usual, much more raised than 
the lights, and the green background is more pro- 
minent than the black cap which it surrounds, 
precisely as those colours are treated in the early 
Flemish pictures. Leonardo's portrait of himself 
(belonging to a diflferent period), in the same 
gallery, has the same general characteristics ; solid 
throughout, but with the darks most raised, in 
consequence of the greater proportion of thick 
varnish used with them. 

The editors of one of the earlier works on the 
Florence Gallery f are of opinion that Leonardo's 
unfinished picture of the Adoration of the Magi 
belongs to his second residence in Florence (1499- 
1613), and adduce some not unimportant reasons 
for their conclusions; Vasari, on the other hand, 
includes it among the master's earlier works. 

* Rumobr, Italianische Forschungen, vol. ii. p. 307. 
t Reale Galleria di Firenze. 


Whenever it was executed, it is plain that the 
artist got into difficulty with it, and he may have 
thrown it aside in consequence. The work exhibits 
two different stages, or rather experiments : in one 
portion the composition is laid in, in chiaroscuro, on 
a cream-coloured ground ; the very pale outlines and 
shadows of this preparation are greenish. A second 
process is apparent upon this in the remaining 
portion ; the shadows are inserted without care, so 
as to encroach in many places on the outline, and 
are sometimes violently dark. The fainter green- 
ish shades have, at a distance, the appearance of 
white scumbled over the intenser darks, but on 
near inspection this is found not to be the case, 
although some white was used. All this cannot 
be said to belong to any regular system, but some 
other circumstances merit attention. The chiaro- 
scuro preparation agrees in principle with Filarete's 
description of the method of oil painting. The 
greenish shadows correspond with the practice of 
the earlier tempera and fresco painters,, and, as we 
shall see, were an exception to Leonardo's general 
method. The darker shadows were evidently 
inserted with " vemice," and though often promi- 
nent, are not blistered or corroded like those of 
some specimens before noticed. 

A small picture of St. Jerome, by Leonardo, 
which was sold with the Fesch collection, is another 
and a more careful example of this chiaroscuro 
preparation. In this instance no white is added; 


the ground is left for the lights, and a brown colour, 
varying in depth, but never intensely dark, is alone 
employed to define the masses and round the forms. 
The head of the saint is highly finished in this 
mode ; the rest of the work is not carried so &r. 
To the two last-mentioned specimens may be added 
various studies of heads in chiaroscuro, which are 
sometimes to be met with in public and private 
collections; one is in the gallery at Parma, another, 
a study for the head of the " Vierge aux Rochers," 
was once in the possession of Messrs. Woodbum. 

The manner in which these preparations are 
executed shows that Leonardo did not follow the 
original Flemish method in this stage of his work 
so closely as Giovanni Bellini and other early Italian 
oil painters. The Florentine, it may be gathered, 
both fix)m his writings and his works, seems to have 
thought that each process of art, as well as each 
quality in nature, has its characteristic and corre- 
sponding means of expression. While employed in 
drawing, for example, he aimed at the last degree 
of exquisite precision, as if accuracy of mere form 
were, by means of a pointed instrument, the proper 
object of imitation. But when he dealt with light 
and shade — and especially by means of the brush 
— ^his attention was directed to the attaimnent of 
roundness by imperceptible gradations, and the 
softer instrument was employed to express, by such 
gradations, the thorough modelling of the object. 
In unfinished works b)' Van Eyck and Giovanni 


Bellini, on the contrary, the light and shade of the 
future picture is expressed with the point; the 
work is finished as a drawing, although all was to 
be covered and obliterated by more or less solid 
painting. The later Flemish painters adopted the 
Leonardesque process ; the earlier method was that 
of the tempera painters, who always completed 
their compositions as drawings before they began 
to paint. The preparation with the brush instead 
of the point (after the outline was defined) may be 
considered one of Leonardo's improvements on the 
older system, and the practice seems to have been 
adopted by him as much from the capabilities of 
the instrument and materials of oil painting as 
from a desire to combine breadth with finish in the 
treatment of shade. 

Various pictures which are described as early 
works of the master exhibit his characteristic merits 
too imperfectly to be considered really his. The 
so-called " Monaca," in the Pitti Gallery, appears to 
belong to another school and period. The Madonna 
with the vase of flowers, in the Borghese Gallery 
at Rome, corresponds in its subject and accessories 
with a picture described by Vasari, but is hardly 
equal to Leonardo's reputation. 

The later and more consummate productions of 
the master may be classed according to his places 
of residence. At the head of his works executed 
at Milan stands the celebrated Last Supper: of 
his movable pictures, probably done at the same 


period (1480-1499), some are preserved in the 
Louvre. Among them is the portrait called "ifi 
Belle Ferrfinifece^" but supposed to be that of 
Lucrezia Crivelli. The St. John and the Bacchus 
in the same gallery, may perhaps belong to Leo- 
nardo's second residence in Florence ; on this point 
it is difficult, and not very important, to decide. 
The " Vierge aux Balances" has been considered the 
work of Oggione, and is certainly not by Leonardo. 
The " Vierge aux Rochers " is also by a scholar : the 
original is in the possession of the Earl of Suffolk at 
Charlton Park. The picture was once in the chapel 
" della Concezione " in the church of S. Francesco 
at Milan : two angels, originally forming the side 
pictures or doors to the work, are still in the col- 
lection of Duke Melzi in that city. To these speci- 
mens are to be added the portraits of Lodovico 
Sforza and his consort, and the head of St. John in 
the Ambrosian Library at Milan ; the Holy Family, 
now in the possession of the Countess of Warwick 
at Gatton Park ; and the Holy Family in the gallery 
of the Hermitage at Petersburg. The unfinished 
picture in the Brera at Milan, the Virgin and Child 
with a lamb, is supposed to be the production of a 
scholar: some critics see in it the work of two 
hands. The finished portions are executed at 
once on the light ground, as in the early Flemish 
system, and as in Pollaiuolo's St. Sebastian : the 
process is more apparent in this specimen, as con- 
siderable portions of the white ground are still 



untouched. Admitting this to be the work of a 
less practised hand than Leonardo's, or, at all 
events, to be not entirely by himself, it is to be 
remembered that he was ever making experiments, 
and that he may sometimes have returned to the 
earlier practice, which must have been first familiar 
to him. 

To the period of Leonardo's second residence in 
Florence (1499-1513) belong the Battle of An- 
ghiara, commonly called, from the portion of the 
composition which has been copied and preserved, 
the Battle of the Standard ; the celebrated portrait 
of Mona Lisa in the Louvre ; a young man's head 
in the Belvedere Gallery at Vienna ; and the cartoon 
in the Royal Academy in London. To this period 
may also belong some Madonnas which are per- 
haps to be found among the pictures ascribed to 
Leonardo in Spain.* 

No work of importance can witb certainty be 
referred to as marking Leonardo's short stay in 
Rome. The Madonna and the portrait mentioned 
by Vasari ar3 not to be traced. The fi-esco in 
S. Onofrio either proves that the method induced 
the artist to alter his style, or, as Rumohr supposes, 

* Of the three pictures, so called, by Leonardo da Vinci, 
since seen by Sir Charles Eastlake in the Madrid Gallery, he 
describes No. 666, Retrato de Mona Lisa, as a *' poor copy ;" 
No. 778, Sacra Familia, as ^'a Luini — rather blackened;" and 
No. 917, Jesus, Santa Ana y la Yirgen, as *'an indifferent 
picture." — Ed. 


that he painted it during an earlier visit to Rome. 
The picture called Modesty and Vanity, in the 
Sciarra Palace, is now generally acknowledged to 
be a work by Luini, as is also the Christ and the 
Doctors in the National Galler}' in London. 

Between the date of Leonardo's last departure 
from Florence to reside in France (1516) to 1519, 
when he died, the only works which can with pro- 
bability be ascribed to him are, the unfinished 
Holy Family (a picture in which the Madonna sits 
on the lap of St. Anna) in the Louvre; and the 
Flora, or Diane de Poictiers, called when in the 
Orleans Gallery " La Colombine," afterwards at the 

Many other pictures which formerly passed for 
Leonardo's productions, executed before as well as 
during his residence in France, have, with increased 
knowledge of the manner of his imitators, and a 
more accurate acquaintance with his own style and 
method, been attributed to his scholars. The 
Pomona in the Berlin Gallery is, on good grounds, 
assigned in the catalogue of that museum to Fran- 
cesco Melzi; the Judith at Vienna is by Cesare da 
Sesto; the Leda (miscalled a Charity), formerly at 
Gassel and since at the Hague, is also a school pic- 
ture. The Christ with the Globe in the Miles 
collection, the Magdalen in that of Hofrath Adamo- 

* Now in the Gallery of the Hermitage, Petersburg. See 
Gemalde-Sammlung in der Kaiserlichen Ermitage zu St. Pe- 
tersburg, von Dr. G. F. Waagen, 1864. 


vitfich in Vienna, the Daughter of Herodias in 
the Tribune at Florence, and the St. Catherine at 
Copenhagen — pictures of which there are numerous 
repetitions — are by, or after, Luini. The Christ 
bearing his Cross, a half-figure, at Vienna, is also 
of Leonardo's school. It will not be necessary 
to consider all even of the genuine works of the 
master above enumerated ; a few will be sufficient 
to illustrate his technical peculiarities and the 
changes which he introduced in the Flemish system 
of oil painting. 

Leonardo's refined taste and fastidious habits may 
be traced in opposite efifects — in untiring labour, 
and in apparently causeless dissatisfaction. From 
a real love of excellence, and by no means from 
indolence, he was averse to methods which require 
decision and dispateh, and this temper of mind 
may be supposed to have influenced his adoption of 
a process which left improvement always in his 
power. This cannot be literally said of the Flemish 
system of oil painting, in which, when once the 
design was completed on the ground of the intended 
picture, that design was looked upon as nearly as 
unalterable as an outlined fresco. To what extent 
Leonardo used and abused the facilities which he 
found the new process afforded may be gathered 
from the state of the unfinished picture in the 
Brera, above noticed, p. 87, of the Adoration of the 
Magi. But the more judicious emplojonent of the 
controllable means of oil painting is to be recog- 


nised in many of his works, in successive opera- 
tions, in the most exquisite "modelling," and in 
the preservation, notwithstanding such repainting, 
of a uniform surface. This power of still making 
corrections, and superadding refinements in form, 
expression, and effect, was analogous to the advan- 
tage which he possessed as a sculptor. It appears 
that the model for the equestrian statue of Fran- 
cesco Sforza was kept in the clay for sixteen years; 
during the greater part of that time Leonardo was 
also employed on his noblest work, the Last Supper, 
in S. Maria delle Grazie, and a contemporary 
writer gives the following account of his habits in 
Milan : — 

" He was wont to go early in the morning — I 
have often seen and watched him — and ascend the 
scaffolding (for the picture of the Last Supper is 
somewhat high from the ground) ; he would con- 
tinue painting there from sunrise to twilight, for- 
getting his meals and never laying aside his pencil. 
Then, perhaps, for two, three, or four days he would 
not touch the work ; yet he sometimes stood for an 
hour or two in the day, merely looking at it, and 
as if passing judgment on his figures. I have also 
seen him (as caprice or impulse moved him) set 
out at noon, under a July sun, from the Corte 
Vecchia, where he was modelling that stupendous 
horse in clay, and hasten to the Madonna delle 
Grazie ; there, having ascended the scaffolding, he 
would take his pencil, and, after giving one or two 


touches to a figure, he would all at once quit the 

The habit, here so clearly indicated, of yielding 
to impulses, and taking advantage of the facilities 
which oil painting afforded, without the necessity 
(at least at the moment) of cumbrous mechanical 
preparations, implies a certain simplicity in the 
materials employed, and agrees with the system of 
the artist as exhibited in his pictures — ^the system 
of carrying his work nearly to completion with 
very few colours, in order to confine his attention 
at first to form and light and shade. The por- 
trait of Mona Lisa was, according to Vasari, a 
labour of four years, though declared unfinished at 
last: this is quite intelligible if we suppose it to 
have been taken up occasionally in the mode above 

The first characteristic, therefore, which we notice 
as distinguishing the finished works of Leonardo 
from the contemporary or earlier examples of 
Flemish oil painting, is the solidity of the work, 
generally produced by frequent repaintings. This 
practice involved a certain modification of the ma- 
terials. A thick semi-resinous vehicle is fitted for 
final sealing operations only; it is quite possible, 
by means of preparatory sketches and a completed 
design, to reduce this final work to one "alia 
prima " painting, as was often the practice of the 

* Noyelle del Bandello, Parte 1, p. 363. 


Flemish masters; but it is hardly practicable, at 
all events, it is not convenient or agreeable, to 
cover a work repeatedly with such a medium — pro- 
ducing a shining surface, and rendering it difficult, 
after frequent operations, to express the minuter 
forms with precision. In order to return again 
and again to the work, as was the practice of 
Leonardo, a less glossy and a less substantial vehicle 
was necessary : the changes thus induced gradually 
defined the Italian, as distinguished from the 
Flemish, method of oil painting. 

With all his sense of the advantages of the new 
process, Leonardo participated in the dread of oil 
which was so common among the Florentines. He 
preferred nut oil, as less coloured than that of linseed, 
and took infinite pains to extract it in the purest 
state. He appears at one time to have believed 
that not only this but all the fixed oils could be 
rendered perfectly colourless; but he must have 
found that, after all such precautions, time ulti- 
mately deepened their hue. He distilled these oils 
in the hope of obtaining a less changeable vehicle, 
with no greater success. With better promise of 
attaining his object, he confined himself to certain 
colours in the earlier stages of his pictures, with a 
view to counteract the subsequent yellowing of the 
oil. He prepared, and even completed them (their 
final glazings excepted), in a purplish tone, and 
thus provided by anticipation a remedy for the evil 
which he dreaded. With the exception of the 



Adoration of the Magi, in which the fiiinter sha- 
dows are greenish, there is scarcely a picture by 
Leonardo, whatever stage of completion it may have 
reached, which does not exhibit this more or less 
solid purplish preparation, varying from an ink- 
colour scarcely removed from grey — as in the Mona 
Lisa, as in the " Vierge aux Rochers " at Charlton, 
and as in an unfinished head in the gallery at Parma 
— to the almost violet hue of the Holy Family in 
the gallery of the Hermitage at Petersburg. De 
Piles remarks that the carnations of Leonardo in- 
cline for the most part to the colour of wine-lees, 
and that a violet colour predominates in his pic- 
tures ; Rumohr notices the same tints in the head 
of Ludovico Sforza in the Ambrosian Library at 
Milan, and in other examples. Leonardo himself, 
describing a mode of painting with gum-water, re- 
commends the use of lake and black among the 
colours for painting the shadows of flesh, the darker 
shades being strengthened with lake and ink. 

It appears, both from the unfinished Adoration 
of the Magi, and from Leonardo's writings, that 
he preferred a yellowish ground or priming. This 
was the opposite hue to his dead colour, as his dead 
colour was again the opposite to the mellow tone 
which glazing and time would give. On the same 
principle the tempera painters dead-coloured their 
flesh green, that the carnations might look fresher, 
and the Venetians prepared a sky with cream colour 
as a ground for blue. 


The importance which Leonardo attached to the 
purity and whiteness of the oils in the preparation 
of his pictures led to other changes in the vehicle. 
The yellow film which, notwithstanding all his pre- 
cautions, gathered upon the surface of his work, 
often long in hand, was still an objection. It was 
remedied by the partial use of the essential oils; he 
distilled these himself, and, not impossibly, may 
have been the first who employed them in painting. 
A remedy, applicable at least to pictures in an un- 
finished stat^, was thus at length found, and, as we 
shall hereafter have occasion to refer to this strictly 
Italian practice, its general conditions and results 
may be at once described. 

When the colours are ground in a purified fixed 
oil, diluted with an essential oil, they dry partly by 
evaporation, they are covered with no skin, and, if 
the essential oil be properly rectified, have no gloss 
on the surface. A picture so painted, even if 
turned to the wall and left for months deprived of 
light and almost of air, undergoes scarcely any 
change. The experiment may be easily made by 
covering one portion of the surface with white, 
ground with a fixed oil, and another next it with 
white, ground with less of the fixed oil (or from 
which much of the oil has been extracted), and 
diluted with an essential oil: the latter mode of 
mixing and applying the colour corresponds vnth 
the well-known process termed by the house-painters 



" flatting," because the surface is free from shine,* 
A picture executed with tints thus prepared may 
be retouched and repainted to any extent without 
turning immoderately yellow ; and when to this pre- 
caution, as adopted by Leonardo, was added that 
of painting the work throughout in a purplish tone, 
the apprehended evil was as far as possible prevented 
or neutralised. 

The essential oil which Leonardo employed ap- 
pears to have been that known by the name of spike 
oil. Here the practice of the Milanese school in 
the sixteenth century throws light on an incidental 
expression in Vasari. The biographer states that 
while Leonardo was in Rome, having been com- 
missioned by Leo X. to paint a picture, he imme- 
diately began to distil oils and herbs for the purpose 
of making varnishes, upon which the Pope observed, 
" Alas ! this man will do nothing, for he is thinking 
of the end before the beginning of the work." 
" The herbs" which the artist placed in the alembic 
could be no other than lavender, from which spike 
oil, afterwards so commonly used in painting, is 
extracted. The Milanese writer, Lomazzo, in his 
Idea del Tempio deUa Pittura^ says, " The colours 
are ground with the oil of walnuts, of lavender, and 

* In painting with gam-water, Leonardo was also careful to 
prevent a glossy surface : — '' Sfumato che tu hai, lascia sec- 
care, poi ritocca a secca con lacca e gomma, stata assai tempo 
con r acqua gommata insieme liquida, che h migliore, perch^ 
fa r uffizio suo senzn lustrare."— TraUaio delta PUtura^ p. 256. 


of other things." The other essential oils used 
by the Italian painters were spirit of turpentine, and 
petroleum ("oglio di sasso") or naphtha — the first 
common in the neighbourhood of Venice, the latter 
abounding in the territory of Parma; but Lomazzo, 
true to the practice of Leonardo, lays the greatest 
stress on nut oil and spike oil. The Florentines seem 
to have inherited the same predilections. A Spanish 
writer, bom in Florence in the sixteenth century*, 
thus describes the vehicles used in painting: — 
" The colours for painting in oil are employed and 
ground with nut oil, spike oil, petroleum, linseed 
oil, and spirit of turpentine." It was before shown 
that some Spanish painters were contented with 
linseed oil, and rather ridiculed the preference given 
by some Italians to nut oil; the prominent place 
which the latter occupies in Carducho's list may 
tend to prove that, though he left Florence when 
young, his technical instructions were derived from 
Italian rather than from Spanish authorities. 
Pacheco boasts of being able to use linseed even 
with blues and whites, his secret to prevent its 
yellowing being still the oil of lavender. According 
to the words of Vasari, if taken literally, both the 
essential oil and the (distilled) fixed oil were 
intended by Leonardo for the composition of 
varnishes: this is quite possible; but the prepara- 

* Carducbo, Dialogo de la Pintara, 8u defensa, origen^ 
essenciB, definicion, modos y diferencias. 4to. Madrid, 1633. 


tion of the essential oil at all sufficiently implies its 
use as a diluent in painting, and the testimony of 
Lomazzo, confirmed by that of Carducho, is con- 
clusive on this point. 

The appearance of the surface in Leonardo's well- 
preserved pictures and in those of his followers, 
corroborates the evidence which is to be gathered 
from the above writers. The soKd light parts 
(with which thin vehicles are most fitly used) 
are covered with innumerable fine cracks, not at 
all disturbing the effect : these indicate the use of 
a medium not very binding, yet not capable of 
violent contraction, inasmuch as the particles of 
colour subside in a thin medium into their most 
compact form ; on the other hand the evaporation 
being checked, to a certain extent, by the presence 
of a fixed oil and a slight resinous ingredient, is not 
so complete as to occasion any considerable contrac- 
tion and consequent disruption. When the latter 
results take place in pictures so executed, it is to be 
presumed that the essential oil was too abundantly 
used.* These effects may be easily proved by 
experiment; for which purpose the painted sur&ce 
should be exposed to the changes of temperature in 
the open air.f 

* In examining the surface of pictures painted on panel, 
it is necessary to distinguish between the cracks on the paint- 
iog which follow the fibres of the wood from those which arise 
from the state of the pigment, or the nature of the vehicles used. 

t Under such circumstances white lead, applied in body, 


To return to Leonardo, a solid painting was now 
prepared, calculated by the vehicles which had 
been employed to undergo little change of tint, 
and fitted to counteract even that change by a 
purposed tendency to the opposite hue. All this 
was, however, only a preparation. When all was 
done, the painter had conducted his work to a stage 
corresponding with the shaded outline, without 
body, of the early Flemish masters. The chief 
difference, besides the solidity of the preparation, 
was that the delicate gradations of light and shade 
were carried much farther in Leonardo's process, 
and that, therefore, in this respect, little remained 
to be done in the process of colouring. Some other 
peculiarities in the treatment of the shadows (which 
rarely exhibited the ground through them) will be 
presently considered. Such being the under-paint- 
ing, the remaining part of the work was necessarily 
modified accordingly ; the tinting of the lights 
might now be accomplished with the thinnest ap- 
plications of warm, opaque colours, and the whole 
of this final operation required a treatment more 
approaching to glazing (that is, the employment of 
literally transparent colours) than was practised in 
the Flemish school. This thinner use of the opaque 

remains longest without cracks when used with oil alone ; 
with the ordinary semi-resinous vehicles, now commonlj used, 
it becomes cracked in long lines ; with a due admixture of 
essential oil the cracks are finer and shorter, or with inspis- 
sated oil the surface, instead of cracking, becomes shrivelled. 


colours was still more requisite in the half lights, 
the varieties of which in chiaroscuro had been 
already expressed in the grey or purple preparation 
with the utmost nicety: on these, therefore, the 
scumbling colours, tending to harmonise the sub- 
dued lights with the rest of the work, were spread 
with a sparing hand, softening still more the finer 
markings and rounding the forms by almost im- 
perceptible gradations, or, as Lomazzo expresses, 
"with tinted film upon film." This treatment 
is what the Italians distinguished by the term 
" sfumato." 

The perfection of the system was afterwards 
attained in the Lombard and Venetian schools, 
for Leonardo, though its worthy inventor, was far 
from succeeding in it uniformly. His preparation 
was in one sense too perfect. The scumbling 
which he could venture to pass over his exquisite 
"dead colour" sometimes wanted power to neu- 
tralise its exaggerat;ed inky hue. Sometimes, again, 
the completeness and beauty of the preparation, in 
all but colour, tempted him to dispense entirely 
with that last glow, for which, after all, the previous 
work had been calculated. Vasari states that the 
Mona Lisa was left unfinished : modem critics have 
often assumed that its present grey, though in 
other respects perfect, state, is a consequence of 
cleaning; but the hands have the full carnation 
tone, and, as a proof that the picture is not ma- 
terially different from its original hue (in whatever 


other respects it may have suffered), it may be 
mentioned that very old copies have the same 

There was another reason why, in Leonardo's 
process, a nearer approach to the Flemish system 
in his ultimate operations was impossible. From 
an ambition to produce on a flat surface the ap- 
parent relief and roundness of sculpture, he was in 
the habit of gradually painting the shadows of his 
preparation, or dead colour, to their strongest 
effect. His fine feeling for light and shade had been 
cultivated to the prejudice, as is often the case, of 
colour. He saw in darkness its force rather than 
its depth; in light its brilliancy rather than its 
warmth; in half light the delicacy of gradations 
rather than the breadth of local tint. His precepts 
agree with his practice: he considered light and 
shade the essence of painting, and more difficult of 
attainment than drawing. His position, that shade 
destroys colour, betrayed him, while he aimed at 
strength, into blackness. On one occasion he ob- 
serves that, as greens become dark they become 
bluer, and perhaps there is no instance in his works 
of a transparent brown shadow to green. This 
force, or rather blackness of his shadows in pictures 
merely prepared for glazing, rendered the warming 
effect of those glazings powerless, for it is essential 
to such operations that the superadded colour 

♦ See Leonardo da Vinci- Album, von G. F. Waagen. Berlin. 


should always be the darker. Vasari speaks of 
Lieonardo's endeavours to approach the force of 
nature in the following terms : — " It is curious to 
trace the efforts of this extraordinary genius in his 
desire to give utmost relief to the objects which he 
painted. In trying to increase the intensity of 
shade by darkness within darkness, he sought for 
blacks deeper than other blacks, in order that the 
light should, by opposition, be more brilliant. The 
result, however, was that scarcely any light re- 
mained in the picture ; such effects rather resem- 
bling night scenes than a gi*adually mitigated 
daylight. But all this was in consequence of his 
aiming at utmost relief, and indicated an ambition 
to attain the end and perfection of imitation." The 
biographer afterwards again refers to this love of 
intense shade : — " This painter added a certain 
obscurity to the art of colouring in oil, in con- 
sequence of which the modems have given great 
force and relief to their figures." Succeeding 
colourists may have adopted a greater force in 
consequence of this practice, but certainly not in 
exact imitation of it, for the darker shadows of 
Leonardo are for the most part opaque. The St. 
John in the Louvre is one of many examples : in 
that work the darks, while they exclude every 
vestige of the internal light ground, must have 
been too intense themselves to be a fit preparation 
for subsequent glazings. In the directions which 
Leonardo has left for painting (in gum-water) the 


shadows of flesh, he recommends that the first 
colour, composed of blacks and reds, should be re- 
touched with lake alone. The same system appears 
to have been followed in his oil painting (for which 
indeed the method he describes may have been 
sometimes a preparation), but the inky shadows 
were in many instances too dark to be corrected 
by lake or by transparent browns. 

The painting executed in the mode described, 
with thinned oils, required not only the warmth 
which the ultimate glazings could give, but the 
protection which the more substantial vehicle used 
with these glazings insured. The "flatting" 
process in common painting is unfit, as is well 
known, for the open air. The absence of gloss 
indicates a more or less porous surface, which is too 
readily susceptible of damp, before it hardens, to 
last, when so exposed, even for a short period; a 
picture somewhat thinly executed with drying oil 
disappeared entirely, under such circumstances, in 
a few months. Without supposing extraordinary 
trials, experience shows that the alternating effects 
of moisture and aridity are soon destructive to 
pictures when the substance or surface of the work 
is imperfectly defended. In Italy the protection, 
as such, which a hydrofuge coating can give was 
indeed less essential than in the North, and care- 
fully kept small works, in which it was omitted, do 
not appear to have suffered much in a mechanical 
sense, except as regards the fine and minute cracks 


before mentioned, with which the surface of Leo- 
nardo's best works is covered : the Mona Lisa is a 
remarkable example. 

Leonardo, like other painters, had his dark and 
light oil varnish : the first was composed of amber 
and nut oil, the nut oil being sometimes distilled ; 
the light varnish consisted of nut oil thickened in 
the sun. Whether the solution of amber with nut 
oil instead of the customary linseed oil was a need- 
less refinement or not, his mention of an amber oil 
varnish shows that the choicer composition prepared 
in the North ("vemix Germanorum") was now 
employed in Italy. On one occasion, when Leo- 
nardo speaks of varnish, the lighter of the above 
vehicles is perhaps to be understood ; he observes 
that verdigris, " even if applied with oil, will soon 
disappear unless it be immediately varnished." A 
half resinified fixed oil is quite as efficacious as the 
"white varnish" in locking up this colour, and 
certainly more so than an essential-oil varnish : the 
effect of balsams employed for the same purpose 
has been before adverted to.* 

In the passages which have been quoted Leo- 
nardo speaks of oU varnishes only, but the same 
reasons which made him reluctant to cover his 
highly- wrought " dead colour " with mellower tints 
which would have rendered fiirther alteration in- 

* See Vol. i. p. 459. Also Sir Joshaa Reynolds's experi- 
ment, ibid. pp. 540, 541. 


conyenient, induced him to seek for thinner com- 
positions to protect his work. Vasari observes 
that ^^ he undertook extraordinary experiments in 
seeking for oils to paint with, and varnishes to 
preserve the finished pictures." Such a varnish, 
the result of " extraordinary experiments," could 
not have been the well-known oil varnishes, and if 
Leo X. found him ^' distilling herbs for the purpose 
of making varnishes," an essential-oil varnish must 
have been in that instance proposed. 

Next in estimation to amber, the customary 
resinous ingredient in the oil varnishes was san- 
darac. The latter can be dissolved in no essential 
oil except spike oil, and this composition, which in 
Italy lasts for a considerable time, appears to have 
been the thinner varnish of Leonardo. Ite employ- 
ment by him is the more probable since we find it 
in use in the Florentine school in the sixteenth 
century, and its introduction agrees with the pre- 
vailing tendency of that school to shun the fixed 
oils as much as possible, using them sparingly 
in painting, and rarely in varnishing. Borghini 
thus describes a composition for the latter purpose, 
intended to dry in the shade — a precaution again 
corresponding with Leonardo's habits : — " Take an 
ounce of spike oil and an ounce of sandarac in 
powder; these being mixed together are to be 
boiled in a new glazed pipkin, and if the varnish is 
required to be more lustrous, more sandarac should 
be added. It should be well stirred in boiling; 


when the solution is completed the varnish should 
be removed from the fire — it should be carefully 
applied while tepid to the picture, and this varnish 
is very delicate and of an agreeable smell." 
Leonardo's experience must have convinced him 
that no varnish is durable : this may be gathered 
from his proposing what he calls "an eternal 
varnish," consisting of a very thin sheet of glass, 
which was to be attached to the surface of the 
picture.* On the whole, perhaps, the composition 
called the varnish of Correggio is, in an Italian 
atmosphere, the least objectionable of the thinner 

Among Leonardo's " extraordinary experiments " 
with oils may be reckoned his method, noticed by 
Lomazzo, of reducing the substance of the fixed 
oils by distillation. As the practice was condemned 
even by his immediate followers (represented by 
that writer), and as we find no trace of the employ- 
ment of such oils in painting, except by Lorenzo 
di Credi, it may be concluded that the invention 
was short-lived. From the records of Florentine 
investigators, it appears not unlikely that Leonardo 
made use of the same oil in the composition of his 
amber varnish ; at all events, we find such a pre- 
paration described by the Padre Gesuato, whose 
" Secreti " were appended to an edition of Alexius 
published at Lucca in the middle of the sixteenth 

• Trattato della Pitlura, p. 255. 


century. The receipt was copied by later writers, but 
the process itself, if introduced by Leonardo, appears 
after his time to have survived only in description. 

The equal substance with which most of the 
works of Leonardo are painted; the force, ap- 
proaching to blackness, in the shadows of some 
of his preparations; and his reluctance to adopt 
the thick rich glazings which, according to the 
practice of his time, precluded all further retouch- 
ing, sufficiently account for the want of that 
prominence of surface in the darks which is cha- 
racteristic of the early oil pictures. Leonardo's 
flesh tints are generally as solid as any other por- 
tion: in the picture in the Louvre in which the 
Virgin is sitting on the lap of St. Anna, the flesh 
is unusually thin — a circumstance explained by the 
unfinished state of the work. A slight prominence 
in the dark is only partially to be traced in that 
picture, in the St. John, in the Bacchus, and in 
some other examples, which will be noticed as we 
proceed. Leonardo's greens and blues are, in like 
manner, scarcely more raised than the surface of 
the other colours; the use of ultramarine, which, 
unlike the " Azzurro della Magna," requires no 
thick vehicle to protect it, would partly explain 
this, and the changes which have sometimes taken 
place where transparent tints were not sufficiently 
" locked up," not only as regards greens but other 
colours, prove that the artist's deviations from the 
traditional practice were not always improvements. 


Leonardo seems to have been averse to expose 
his pictures to the sun ; the use of an evaporable 
ingredient (spike oil) might undoubtedly render 
the surface so exposed too arid, and too liable to 
crack. On one occasion he directs a painting, pre- 
pared for varnishing, to be dried in a dark oven : * 
he nowhere mefttions dryers. 

The dryers used at an early period in Italy are 
to be detected in descriptions of mordants for 
gildings. Cennini directs linseed oil to be slowly 
boiled till it be reduced one half; this drying oil, 
he observes, is good for painting, and when further 
thickened with a certain proportion of "vemice 
liquida '* is fit for mordants. Elsewhere he speaks 
of white lead and verdigris mixed with oil and 
" vemice " for mordants. The later Florentine 
preparations of this kind were fitter for occasional 
use in painting, and the best was evidently of 
northern origin. A composition which must have 
resembled japanners' gold-size in colour and sicca- 
tive power is described by Borghini: it consisted 
of umber, massicot, minium, calcined bones, and 
calcined vitriol ; these materials being finely ground 
were boiled in linseed or nut oil, and the prepara- 
tion was used as a mordant when cold — ^that is, in a 
clarified state. Borghini, after directing how the 
vitriol was to be calcined, observes : — " This vitriol 
makes all slow-drying colours dry, but it spots 

♦ Trattato della Pittura, p. 2^6. 


them." There can be little doubt that white cop- 
peras or sulphate of zinc is here meant, since no 
other " vitriol " is known to have been used as a 
dryer; as already explained (p. 35 note), it is per- 
fectly harmless when boiled with oils according to 
the Flemish method, and when calcined would also 
be harmless if mixed in substance with the colours, 
but being then opaque, it would be unfit to mix 
with darks. The composition described by Borghini 
might perhaps be improved for the uses of painting 
by omitting the preparations of lead, which are 
more or less soluble in oil, while the sulphate of 
zinc is not so. Another mordant described by the 
same writer, and which is applicable as a siccific, 
was composed of the remains of colours which had 
dried with a pellicle. These were boiled in nut 
oil till they were dissolved; the preparation was 
then strained and clarified. 

The paintings which Leonardo executed in oil 
on walls were ill calculated for durability. Three 
works of the kind were undertaken by him : the 
celebrated Last Supper in the refectory of S. 
Maria delle Grazie at Milan ; the portraits of Lodo- 
vico and Beatrice Sforza in the same hall, opposite 
the Last Supper and next the Crucifixion in fresco, 
by Giovanni Donato Montorfani; and the Battle 
of Anghiara (called, from the portion which is 
known fi-om copies, the Battle of the Standard) in 
the council- chamber at Florence. The Madonna 
and Child in the convent of S. Onofrio at Rome, 

vor. II. I 


painted, according to Titi and others, in oil, is 
certainly in fresco.* 

In preparing to paint on the walls of the refec- 
tory in S. Maria delle Grazie, it is evident that, 
mindful perhaps of the suggestion before quoted of 
Leon Battista Alberti, he proposed to take additional 
precautions at the outset of the work. The portraits 
of Lodovico Sforza and his consort were painted on 
the smooth intonaco corresponding with that on 
which Montorfani's fresco was executed, the sur- 
face having been perhaps prepared with size for 
Leonardo's oil pictures : parts of the white wall are 
now exposed, and the portions of those pictures 
which remain are so blackened that the forms are 
scarcely distinguishable. These works are, how- 
ever, comparatively unimportant, and the artist is 
said to have undertaken them vnth reluctance. 
But the wall on which the Last Supper was painted 
was first covered with a mixture of common resin, 
mastic, gesso, and other materials. This coating, 
however, proved insuflBlcient for an unusually damp 
wall, which, in consequence of the low site of the 
building, was exposed even to the effects of inun- 
dations. The wall of the council-chamber at 
Florence was defended by a similar composition, 
apparently including linseed oil; in this case an 
evil of a different kind occurred — the hydrofuge 
coating began to flow down, and after Leonardo 

* See Bunsen, Besclireibung der Stadt Rom, vol. iii. Part III. 
p. 585. 


had abandoned the painting the surface required to 
be supported with woodwork. 

With the exception of the hydrof uge preparation, 
Leonardo appears to have made no change in his 
system of painting on walls as compared with his 
ordinary process : he reckoned on his first and last 
operations (the last having been unfortunately 
omitted) for the preservation of the work. In the 
painting itself his chief object was to reserve the 
power of retouching till he was satisfied, and, 
keeping this in view, to prevent a glossy surface 
and the yellowing of the oil. Paolo Giovio, a con- 
temporary of Leonardo, and perhaps personally 
known to him, says that the Battle of Anghiara 
was painted with nut oil, and Lomazzo attributes 
the early decay of the Last Supper to the artist 
having used it thinned by distillation; but neither 
the practice nor the further dilution of the vehicle 
with spike oil would have been injurious had these 
paintings been completed with oil varnishes. Leo- 
nardo's deviation fi-om the Flemish process is 
especially evident in his mode of painting upon 
walls : we have seen that the Florentine artists who 
succeeded him retained, in that case only, the 
Flemish method of using varnish with all the 
colours. Leonardo undoubtedly contemplated the 
ultimate toning, and, which was no less important, 
the protection of the surface by means of substan- 
tial vehicles ; but in this as in many other instances 
the final operation was for ever postponed. 



That the protection of the surface of the wall 
from internal damp is essential to the preservation 
of pictures executed upon that surface there can be 
no question, but one cause of the blackening of oil 
pictures on walls has been generally overlooked. 
Vasari remarks that Andrea dal Castagno, the Pol- 
laiuoli, and others, had never been able to prevent 
their oil paintings on walls from turning black ; he 
then expresses his conviction that the difficulty 
had been entirely surmounted by Sebastian del 
Piombo, who, not content with a hydrofuge pre- 
paration as a ground for the picture, mixed the 
very mortar with resin, and spread the first rough 
coat with a hot iron, " in consequence of which," 
continues the biographer, " his paintings on walls 
have effectually resisted moisture, and have pre- 
served their colours without the slightest change." 
He instances the picture by Sebastian of the Flagel- 
lation of Christ, in S. Pietro in Montorio at Rome. 
When Vasari wrote, that picture might have re- 
tained its freshness, but now, from its blackened 
surface, it is scarcely visible. Such is, indeed, a 
common if not a universal defect of wall paintings 
in oil. 

The cause of this change is not merely internal. 
Borghini, though he expresses himself incorrectly, 
hints at another source of the evil: "Whoever," 
he observes, " wishes their oil painting on walls to 
last long, should paint on walls of brick, and not 
on walls of stone ; for the latter, in humid weather. 


give forth moisture and stain the picture, whereas 
bricks are less susceptible of damp." The colder 
the surface, the more the moisture of the atmosphere 
will be condensed upon it, and when a painting is 
executed on stone, its surface will necessarily be 
wet in damp weather. The decay of the picture, 
if executed with thin oil alone, would be the speedy 
result : even if it were painted with firm vehicles, 
as was usually the practice, still the moist surface 
would attract dust and smoke, and gradually be- 
come blackened. On the same principle an oil 
painting would retain its original appearance longer 
on plaster upon laths than on the colder surface of 
plaster upon bricks. The same conditions affect 
fresco painting to a certain extent, but much less 
so, from the constant tendency of lime to a redisin- 
tegration, from the surface inwards, of the original 
carbonate ; that process requires moisture, and 
thus, for a considerable time at least, prevents 
its accumulation in damp weather on the mere 

The epitaph on Leonardo which appears in the 
first edition of Vasari's Lives^ might be under- 
stood to attribute to him the invention of oil 
painting, thus pointing to the many changes which 
he introduced in the process: if the eulogy is 
exaggerated in this respect, it is no less so in 
alluding to his "transparent shadows." The 
writer, having assumed that Leonardo was the 
first who practised oil painting, ascribes to him, 


without further enquiry, the characteristic excel- 
lence of the method. 

Two interesting specimens of the master, further 
illustrating his technical predilections and his ver- 
satility, may be noticed in conclusion. The picture 
called the " Vierge aux Rochers," in the possession 
of the Earl of SuflFolk, was probably one of the first 
works painted by Leonardo in Milan. The shades 
and obscurer colours are now become intensely 
dark, and this peculiarity is observable in the two 
pictures of angels, originally forming part of the 
altar-piece, which are stUl at Milan. The system 
adopted in this picture may have been the same, 
carried farther, as that of the unfinished Adoration 
of the Magi in Florence ; the brown darks appear 
to have been inserted at first, time having rendered 
them more opaque. The flesh tints are painted 
with the usual purpUsh greyish tint, but not with 
so much body as in some of his later works. As 
the picture was long in a church, it is hardly to be 
supposed that it was left unfinished; the more 
probable conclusion is that the present colourless 
state of the flesh is in consequence of the glazings 
having disappeared. The surface of the darks, 
though rarely prominent, is here and there cracked, 
and in a mode which indicates the use of sandarac. 

The Holy Family in the possession of the 
Countess of Warwick at Gatton Park, is an excep- 
tion, in a technical point of view, to the usual 
system of Leonardo. The excellence of the com- 


position, and the thoroughly studied drawing and 
modelling of the heads and hands, are sufficient 
evidences of the master, while the remarkable pre- 
servation of the picture gives it a more than common 
interest and value. The peculiarities of the execu- 
tion, as compared with Leonardo's other works, 
are to be considered as proofs of his studious and 
investigating character, and perhaps in this case 
admit of more direct explanation. Lomazzo's 
statement that no work of the master is to be con- 
sidered finished can hardly apply to this example, 
which is completed in every part. The colouring 
of the flesh is warm, and although there is evidence 
here and there — for example, in the children — of a 
cool preparation in the lower half-tints and lighter 
shadows, that preparation was so far calculated for 
the mellower tones with which it is clothed that no 
unpleasant grey or inky colour predominates. The 
heads and hands of the Joseph and Zacharias are 
even golden in tone. The flesh, though as usual free 
from " hatching," is thinner than in most works of 
the master; and the shadows, especially the darker 
parts of the blue drapery, decidedly prominent in 
comparison with the portions in which white was 
used. Some dark green drapery behind the heads 
of the Madonna and Joseph, and elsewhere, is 
cracked in a manner which shows that the ordinary 
" white varnish " was used, but the raised shadows 
generally are not cracked at all, and their per- 
fect preservation, notwithstanding the quantity of 


vehicle used in them, indicates the use of the amber 
varnish. No essential oil appears to have been em- 
ployed in this picture ; the cracks in the flesh are not 
numerous (as in the portrait of Lucrezia Crivelli, 
that of Mona Lisa, and the St. John), and are ap- 
parently the consequence of a slight expansion in 
the fibres of the wood, the grain of which they gene- 
rally follow. On minute inspection, a light ground 
is to be detected through the shadows of the flesh. 

All the above peculiarities — ^the prominence of 
the shadows as compared with the light, the firm- 
ness of the vehicle both in lights and darks, the 
use of the white varnish in the deeper greens, the 
general warmth of tone, and the comparative trans- 
parency of the shadows of the flesh — are charac- 
teristic of the early Flemish system, and there is 
perhaps no other work of Leonardo's in which that 
system is so closely followed. The picture belongs 
to the middle period of the master's practice, and 
may have been executed in Milan. The proba- 
bility is that Leonardo may there have studied some 
specimens of the Flemish process : none were more 
likely to come under his observation, from their 
novelty and celebrity at the time, than the works 
of Antonello da Messina. That painter had re- 
turned to Venice ; but, as we have seen, he had 
resided for some years in Milan, and must have 
left numerous pictures there — perhaps chiefly por- 
traits. Whatever may have been the cause of 
Leonardo's adoption of the Flemish method during 


part of his stay in Milan, his fastidious and pro- 
crastinating habits (apparent at that time in the 
prosecution of his great work in S. Maria delle 
Grazie) ultimately determined his executive me- 
thod, and the style which is more peculiarly his 
own is best represented by a subsequent work at 
Florence — the portrait of Mona Lisa. 

The foregoing description of Leonardo's works 
and method has been purposely minute, because 
he is to be regarded as the founder, strictly speak- 
ing, of the Italian process of oil painting. The more 
important characteristics of his mere practice may 
be shortly defined as follows. The system of re- 
touching to any extent the preparation or dbhozzo 
may be said to date from him ; and the technical ex- 
pedients and materials which rendered this system 
possible and convenient were also his invention. 
In securing the means of painting and repainting 
without prematurely coating the surface with semi- 
resinous and glossy vehicles, his object seems to 
have been to retain the power of improving his 
works in form and expression, and of imitating 
with completeness the roundness and relief of 
natural objects. The application of mellower tints 
and glazings with substantial varnishes was re- 
served for final operations, or till the artist was 
satisfied. In this respect Leonardo differed not, in 
principle, from the Flemish masters: they too, 
though using varnish (in greater or less propor- 
tions) with all the colours, may be said to have 


employed it only in final operations ; but their final 
painting was, in many cases, the only painting — ^the 
work being executed, like a fresco or tempera 
picture, from finished sketches, portion by portion. 
The progress of the art from tempera was indeed 
gradual and consistent: the tempera picture was 
varnished; the first oil painters, in the course of 
experiments to improve this varnish, ended by 
mixing it with the colours, and assuming or finding 
that the application of tints with so glossy a vehicle 
could not conveniently be repeated, they thoroughly 
drew and shaded their design before the colours 
were applied, and then often painted " alia prima." 
A literally unchangeable design and the decision of 
the subsequent operations were not to Leonardo's 
taste. In order to reserve the power of correcting 
his work he invented a mode of painting with 
diluted oil, calculated to prevent gloss on the sur- 
face, postponing the use of thick varnishes, at least 
in the lights, till his picture was all but completed. 
That picture, purposely kept cool and grey in 
colour, but with every form, half-tint, and shadow 
defined, was equivalent to the Flemish painter's 
finished drawing, since, in both cases, a single opera- 
tion only with varnish-colours was required to 
complete the work, or, at all events, the portion so 
treated. One consequence of Leonardo's repaint- 
ings, perhaps not at first contemplated by him, was 
a greater solidity or body of colour (impasto) than 
had previously been attempted, or than was by 


some contemporary artists thought desirable. It 
will be seen as we proceed, that, with the exception 
of Lorenzo di Credi, the -immediate followers of 
Leonardo preferred a thinner substance in the 
lights, and especially in the flesh tints, and thus 
adhered more closely to the Flemish system. 
The solid preparation was, however, subsequently 
adopted by many (especially when painting on 
cloth instead of wood), as a means of preserving the 
work, and was gradually considered indispensable 
in larger pictures as forming a needful substratum 
for the semi-transparent and transparent tintings 
called scumbling and glazing. The judicious use, 
by the Venetian painters, of these various methods, 
including a lighter preparation of the shadows, 
soon opened the way to excellences never contem- 
plated by Leonardo. 

In enumerating the actual changes which this 
inventive and fastidious painter introduced, and 
which were sooner or later adopted, not only in 
Italy, but, by a natural reaction, sometimes in the 
schools of the North, we may thus reckon: — 1. The 
exclusion of the light ground by a solid prepara 
tory painting. 2. The use of essential oils together 
with nut oil in that preparation. 3. The practice of 
thinly painting and ultimately scumbling and glaz- 
ing over the carefully prepared dead colour, as op- 
posed to the simpler and more decided processes, 
or sometimes the single " alia prima " operation of 
the Flemish masters. 4. The reservation of thick 


resinous vehicles (when employed to cover the 
lights) for final operations, so as to avoid as much 
as possible a glossy surface during the earlier 
stages of the work. 5. The use of essential oil 

The defects into which Leonardo was often 
betrayed— ron the one hand by his exclusive study 
of chiaroscuro, and, on the other, by his endeavours 
to guard against the yellowing of oil — ^were, want 
of transparency in his shadows, and want of warmth 
in his flesh tints. The chief practice, characteristic 
of the school of Van Eyck, which he retained, was 
the use of the amber varnish, substituting nut oil 
(sometimes even distilled) for the customary linseed 
oil. Instead of the " white varnish," composed of 
nut oil and mastic, or nut oil and fir resin, he, 
at least occasionally, used the thickened nut oil 

We now come to the third member of the trium- 
virate before mentioned — Pietro Vanucci, called 
Perugino. Some of the writers who have traced 
the progress of this painter are unwilling, as already 
stated, to believe that with his habits in a great 
measure formed at Perugia, and probably no longer 
a youth when he first visited Florence, he could 
have entered the school of Verocchio as a student. 
But in Italy, and at that time, such a circumstance 
would excite no surprise ; the thirst for knowledge 
was the great stimulus — the readiest means of ac- 


quiring it the chief consideration. In any view of 
this question, the early friendship of Perugino and 
Leonardo, whether as fellow-students or not, is 
established on the safest authority. 

Supposing Perugino to have arrived at Florence 
at the age of twenty-five (1471) — to allow time for 
his previous studies at Perugia with his first master, 
Bonfigli, and for some works of his own there — ^it 
is plain that the improved method of oil painting 
must have been then unknown to him. He could 
only acquire that knowledge in Florence, and pro- 
bably not till a year or two later. One of his 
early pictures — the Adoration of the Magi*, for- 
merly in the Chiesa de' Servi (formerly called 
S. Maria Nuova) at Perugia f — is, according to 
Mezzanotte, painted in oil. The style of this pic- 
ture indicates little influence of Florentine studies ; 
but if, as Rumohr on good grounds supposes, the 
work was executed in 1475, it may, quite possibly, 
be an attempt in the new method. It matters little 

* Cavalcaselle attributes this picture to Fiorenzo di Lo- 
renzo. It is DOW in the Perugia Gallery, No. 39, under the 
name of Dom. Ghirlandajo! See Cavalcaselle, voL iii. p. 158, 
and note. — Ed. 

f A picture of the Transfiguration, once in the same 
church, now in the gallery at Perugia, is placed by Orsini 
( Ftto, Elogio e Memorie di Pietro Perugino^ p. 20) among the 
early works of the master. It has, however, suffered so much, 
and is so repainted, that it will hardly be safe to draw any 
conclusions from it. The altar-piece in S. Simone at Perugia, 
which Orsini (p. 24) inclines to place among the early works 
of Pietro Perugino, indicates rather the weakness of age. 


whether this work was painted in Florence or 
in Perugia; Florence may be considered the head- 
quarters of the artist about that time, and 1475 
is the date of Antonio PoUaiuolo's St. Sebastian. 
The earliest work which Perugino is known to 
have executed in Florence is a fresco formerly in 
S. Piero Maggiore, and which, on the demolition of 
that church, was removed to the -Palazzo Albizzi, 
where it now is.* From a document obligingly 
communicated by the present inheritor of the pic- 
ture, it appears that the artist received a hundred 
gold crowns for it from Luca degF Albizzi. That 
individual, having been concerned in the conspiracy 
of the Pazzi, was exiled in 1478, and did not return 
to Florence till after twenty-five years. The work 
in question may have been executed about 1476-7. 
A fresco by Perugino at Cerqueto, near his native 
city, had the date 1478. In 1480 Perugino left 
Florence for Romef, where he was employed by 
Sixtus IV., and, after that pontiflfs death, by 
others for some years, occasionally visiting Perugia. 
Leonardo quitted Tuscany for Milan about the 
same time : it is therefore sufficiently evident that, if 
Perugino gave his attention to oil painting in com- 
pany with Leonardo and Lorenzo di Credi, the time 

* Yasari (vol. i. p. 420) speaks of the resistance of this 
fresco to rain and wind. See also Bocchi, Bellezze di Firenze, 
p. 176, quoted in Orsini, p. 120. 

t According to Orsini (p. 137, note), Perugino was in Pe- 
rugia in 1483. 


.when such studies were prosecuted must have been 
anterior to 1480. In the absence of dates on many 
of Perugmo's works it is not possible to determine 
what pictm-es by him, now extant, were painted 
before that period. Many circumstances concur to 
prove that he had then attained great practice in 
the method ; and perhaps a writer before quoted is 
correct in assigning the works executed for the 
Gesuati in the church of S. Giusto aUe Mura to the 
period of the artist's first residence in Florence. 
The church, with its frescoes by Pietro, was de- 
stroyed in 1529 during the siege of Florence, but 
the three altar-pieces in oil by him were removed, 
and are still preserved : in one of them (a Cruci- 
fixion, with the Magdalen)^ now in the church of 
S. Giovanni della Calza, some critics have traced 
an imitation of Luca Signorelli ; if they are correct*, 
this is an additional reason for concluding that 
the picture, and consequently its companions, were 
executed about the time above supposed. Signorelli 
painted several pictures in Florence for Lorenzo de' 
Medici, some of which are now in the Uffizj. 
Perugino again met Signorelli, and must have seen 
a fresco by him (afterwards destroyed) in Rome ; 
but there is no trace of the imitation above alluded 
to after Pietro's first residence in Florence. 

In Rome Perugino found few disposed to employ 

♦ See Passavant's Life of Raphael (German), p. 489. Also 
BorghiDi, II Riposo, vol. ii. p. 150, note, and Baldinucci, vol. v. 
p. 491. 


him as an oil painter: his works in the Sistine* 
Chapel, as well as those begun in the Vatican, were 
necessarily in fresco. A round picture, formerly 
in the Corsini Palace, and lately in the Royal 
Gallery at the Hague, is a beautiful example of 
tempera.* Another work in tempera, with the 
date 1491, probably executed at Perugia for a 
Roman employer, is now in the Albani Palace at 
Rome. The altar-piece formerly in the church of 
St. Mark in Rome has disappeared.! 

Soon after 1490 the artist was again in Perugia 
and Florence ; his time was divided between those 
and other cities (including Rome, which he more 
than once revisited) till about 1515 J, when he 
retired to Perugia, chiefly on account of the severity 
with which the followers of Michael Angelo in 
Florence treated his latter works. He died at 
Frontignano, between Cittit della Pieve and Perugia, 
at the age of seventy-eight, in 1524. 

The best works of Perugino were executed be- 
tween 1490 and 1505. The following are among 
the most celebrated: — The altar-piece painted for 
the church of S. Domenico at Fiesole, and dated 
1493, representing the Madonna and Child en- 

• Now in the Louvre. 

f Bansen (vol. iii. Part III. p. 536) mentions a picture of 
St. Mark ascribed to Perugino, but more like aVenetian picture. 

^ As he purchased a burial-phice in the Servi at Florence 
in July, I5l5y he can hardly have abandoned the idea of 
ending his days in that city until after that date. See Vasari, 
note 50 to Life, 


throned, with St. John the Baptist and St. Sebastian 
standing beside them, is now in the gallery of the 
Uffizj. This picture is remarkable for a very 
refined character and expression in the Madonna. 
Another, with the same date, somewhat similar in 
subject, is in the Belvedere Gallery at Vienna. A 
picture of the Madonna with two saints, SS. Au- 
gustin and James, dated 1494, is in the church of 
S. Agostino at Cremona.* Four excellent works 
of the master were painted, or completed, in the 
following year (1495) : the Dead Christ mourned by 
the Marys and Disciples, originally in the church of 
S. Chiara, and now in the Pitti Gallery at Florence ; 
the enthroned Madonna and Child surrounded by the 
patron saints of Perugia, painted for and formerly in 
the Cappella del Magistrato at Perugia, and now in 
the gallery of the Vatican ;t the Ascension, painted 

* This picture was among those taken to Paris. 

f Mariotti gives a curious and amusing history of thin 
picture. In 1479 a painter of Perugia, Pietro di Maestro 
Galeotto, was commissioned to paint an altar-piece for the 
Cappella del Magistrato within the space of two years. The 
picture was to represent the Madonna and Child with the four 
patron saints of Perugia — SS. Lorenzo, Ludovico, Ercolano, 
and Costanzo. Galeotto was not a man of punctual habits. 
Three years elapsed, and the work was not complete ; and, 
for fear of the plague, which was increasing in Perugia, he 
obtained another yearns grace. In that year he died, leaving 
the picture unfinished. Then the magistracy applied to their 
fellow-townsman, Pietro Perugino, and a contract was drawn 
up with him, stipulating that the picture should be completed 
in four months' time from that date, November, 1488. ** But," 



for S. Pietro Maggiore at Perugia, and now in the 
gallery at Lyons ; and the Sposalizio, or Marriage 
of the Virgin, once in the Duomo at Perugia, and 
now at the Museum of Caen, in Normandy. A 
picture of the Nativity, originally in the church 
of S. Antonio Abbate in Perugia, is now in the 
Louvre ; it was painted about 1497. An altar- 
piece with the same date, representing the enthroned 
Madonna and Child surrounded by six saints, is in 
the church of S. Maria Nuova at Fano. The pic- 
ture of the Madonna and Child, round whom kneel 
six figures while angels hover above, painted in 
1498 for the confraternity " Delia Consolazionc," 

Bays the author, ''what availed the promises of the old 
painters ? ** Within a few days of the signing of the contract 
Perugino was on his way elsewhere, and the picture remained 
in statu quo. The magistracy waited for his return till the 
December of the same year, 1483, and then they signed an 
agreement with another painter and fellow- townsman, Santi 
di ApoUonio, binding him to complete the work within one 
year. But the third labourer in this field was as little con- 
scientious as the two first. Seven years passed away, and 
he never set a stroke. All this while the picture remained at 
the house of Galeotto's father, who, tired of keeping it, con- 
signed it, in 1791, along with some unused colours, to the 
magistracy. Four years longer the unfinislied work sent up 
its mute protest. Then the magistracy bethought themselves 
again of Pietro Perugino, whose growing fame wiped out his 
past delinquencies ; and in March, 1496, a fresh contract 
bound the painter to complete this and other labours within 
six months Whether he was more punctual this time is not 
known, but Mariotti adds : ** il qundro per6 noi lo vediam 
fatto.'* — Lettere pittoriche Peritgine^ pp. 146-1 62. This picture 
was among those taken to Paris. 


in Perugia, is in the church of S. Domenico in 
that city. About the same time was painted the 
altar-piece called the Family of St. Anna, formerly 
in the church of S. Maria de' Fossi at Perugia, and 
now in the museum at Marseilles. Two children 
(St. James Major and St. James Minor*) in the 
picture were copied by Raphael in tempera on a 
gold ground: (this, perhaps the earliest existing 
work of Perugino's distinguished scholar, is pre- 
served in the sacristy of S. Pietro Maggiore at 
Perugia). The Assumption of the Virgin, painted 
for the convent of Vallombrosa in 1500, is now in 
the gallery of the Academy at Florence. The 
great work of Perugino — the series of frescoes in 
the " Sala del Cambio " at Perugia — ^was executed 
about 1500 : these paintings bear the same relation to 
the artist's fame as those of the Vatican do to that of 
Raphael. The picture of the Resurrection, painted 
in 1502 for the church of S. Francesco at Perugia, 
is now in the gallery of the Vatican : in this work 
the assistance of Raphael is apparent. To the years 
1504^1505 belong the wall paintings at Citta della 
Pieve (Perugino's birthplace) and at Panicale; the 
first representing the Adoration of the Kings, the 
latter the Martyrdom of St. Sebastian. These 
works are interesting in a technical point of view, 

* Passavant describes the children as the Infant Christ and 
St. John, but in the original picture the name of each is 
inscribed in the nimbus. 



having been apparently painted on the dry wall, in 
the method called " secco."* An altar-piece repre- 
senting the Virgin and Child enthroned surrounded 
by saints, painted in 1507 for Montone, near Citti 
di Castello, was, in the last century and probably 
still is, in a private collection at Ascoli : it differs in 
one respect from the generality of Pietro's works, 
as the upper part consists of a gold ground on 
which some figures of angels are relieved. 

Some excellent pictures of the master which 
are preserved in various galleries are here omitted, 
as they are of uncertain dates. The later works of 
Perugino are generally inferior to those that have 
been named: intent latterly, as it appears, on 
amassing wealth, he often adapted his former com- 
positions to new subjects, and, while his powers 
of invention declined, his colouring, which con- 
stitutes so great a part of the merit of his best 
productions, also became weak. This is obser- 
vable in an altar decoration of considerable ex- 
tent, painted (probably in 1512) for the church of 
S. Agostino in Perugia. The insulated altar ex- 
hibited a picture on each side, besides smaller 
accessory subjects ; the two principal portions are 
still in the church, though not in their original 
place. Perugino's last works were wall paintings : 
a Nativity and some other subjects at Frontignano 
(between Citti della Pieve and Perugia) were 

• See Vol. i. p. 142. 


painted in and after 1522. These, like some earlier 
specimens of the kind, are executed on the dry 

Many of the altar-pieces here enumerated were 
adorned with other pictures. The principal sub- 
ject was commonly surmounted by another, forming 
an apex to the decoration : the upper and smaller 
picture was often of the lunette form (like the 
Francia of that shape in the National Gallery); 
the pilasters or lateral portions of the frame were 
sometimes filled with single figures or half-figures 
of saints, and a narrow compartment below (the 
predella) was occupied with small Scripture sub- 
jects, and sometimes with figures of saints as well. 
Most of such smaller figures by Perugino, origi- 
nally belonging to larger works, are now scattered 
in galleries, and are not unirequently attributed to 
Raphael. The three predella pictures of the altar- 
piece of the Ascension, now at Lyons, which are in 
the museum at Rouen, are examples. At the 
period when these works were executed, Raphael 
was but twelve years old. One of the works of the 
master in which the hand of the scholar is really 
apparent is (as we have said) in the picture of the 
Resurrection in the Vatican Gallery (1502). 
Another in the same gallery, representing the 
Nativity, appears to have been chiefly the work of 
Perugino's scholars, and the head of Joseph is, on 
good grounds, ascribed to Raphael. On the other 
hand, predella pictures, or larger subjects executed 


in the manner of Perugino, and which belong to a 
later date than 1505, cannot be the work of the 
great scholar, who about that period began to 
emancipate himself from the style of his master. 

The three altar-pieces painted for S. Giusto alle 
Mura, and which are all preserved in Florence, 
merit especial attention, not only because they 
appear to be among the earlier works of the master, 
but because Vasari has undertaken to describe the 
mode in which they were painted. His words are : 
" These three pictures have suffered much, and are 
cracked throughout the darks and in the shadows ; 
this happens when the first coat of colour which is 
laid on the priming is not quite dry (for three layers 
of colour are applied one over the other). Hence, 
these, as they gradually dry, contract in con- 
sequence of their thickness, and have force enough 
to cause these cracks — an effect which Pietro could 
not foresee, since it was only in his time that 
painters began to colour well in oil." 

It is true that these works have suffered partially 
in the mode described, but not more so than other 
pictures of the time. It is remarkable that Vasari 
should notice the cracks as existing only in the 
darks and in the shadows, for this at once con- 
tradicts his explanation ; it was in those parts that 
the oleo-resinous vehicle was used in greatest abun- 
dance, and the somewhat premature effects above 
noticed, taking place perhaps fifty years after the 
pictures were executed, may have been occasioned 


by using the vehicle with too great a proportion of 
resin, or by the insufficient protection of the works 
from the sun's rays, or from the heat. Had the 
thickness of the pigment and the circumstance of 
the under layer not being dry been the sole cause 
of the defects in question, the light portions would 
have been cracked as well as the dark. In Peru- 
gino's works the flesh tint is generally thin, and 
sometimes extremely so. Vasari's explanation is 
thus inconsistent with the master's practice. In 
other respects his observation is just; when a 
picture is repeatedly covered it is important that 
the under layer, if thick, should be quite dry before 
another is superadded. This precaution appears 
even in the directions of Eraclius, and that it was 
observed by the first oil painters in the improved 
method is apparent from the passage before given 
fh>m the manuscript of Filarete. For the rest the 
methodical application of three successive layers 
belongs rather to the practice of Vasari's time than 
to that of Perugino. In his life of Fra Barto- 
lommeo, the biographer, in speaking of similar 
defects in one of that painter's works, again alludes 
to those altar-pieces by Perugino, and attributes 
the evil in both cases to the application of " fresh 
colours to a fresh size " (the size and gesso 
priming). The precaution of painting on a per- 
fectly dry priming is also important, but it was not 
necessary to assign such a cause for the cracks in 
transparent <larks. 


Of the three altar-pieces referred to, that in the 
church '* della Calza " is a very fine specimen of 
the master; it represents the Crucifixion, with the 
Magdalen, St. John, St. Jerome, and St. Colom- 
bino (founder of the Gesuati).* The picture is 
not in bad preservation, but has been neglected, 
and much needs a coat of varnish, having now 
ahnost the appearance of a fresco. On nearer 
inspection, the darks, which are more or less 
cracked and blistered throughout, are found to be 
thicker than the lights, which, however, appear to 
have lost none of their original body ; minute darks, 
such as the foliage even of distant trees, are, as it 
were, embossed ; both flesh and draperies, here 
and there, exhibit hatching. The surface of the 
green drapery of the Magdalen is remarkably pro- 
minent; the shadows of the crimson drapery are 
also thick, and are much cracked and corroded; 
some parts of this drapery, and others that have 
chipped, show the white ground underneath. The 
other two pictures, the Pietk and the Gethsemanef , 
are in the gallery of the Florentine Academy. In 
the latter the shadows are raised, even those 

* The likeness of this picture to Luca Signorelii has, as we 
have seen (p. 127), been suggested. Cavalcaselle (vol. iii. 
p. 247) says: <^It is difficult to ascribe this piece either to 
Perugino or Signorelii." — EcL 

t Of this picture Sir Charles Eastlake sajs in a note, dated 
1856 :— " Colour of dead Christ and of standing figure behind 
St. John — yellow and brown — like an approach to Signorelii ; 
none of the heads quite like Perugino, perhaps the Christ and 
Nicodemus most." — £d. 


under the features ; the darks of the draperies are 
also prominent, and are now blistered and rough- 
ened. The flesh, on the contrary, is thinly painted, 
so as to show the light ground within it. In the 
Vietk the flesh is somewhat more solid, but in this 
picture also the darks are thick, cracked, and 

The altar-piece painted in 1493 for St. Domenico 
at Fiesole, and now in the tribune of the Uffizj, has 
the same general peculiarities ; the darks especially 
are thick, and have suffered to a certain extent in 
the usual way. 

The once beautiful S. Chiara picture, now in the 
Pitti Gallery, is said to have suffered from the 
sun's rays in its original situation; it is now in a 
very ruined state, and has been much repaired. 
It is, however, to be observed that the darks are all 
raised, and the greens and blues especially so : the 
cracks in these colours indicate the use of the white 
varnish; the shadows of red drapery, rough and 
blistered, indicate that of sandarac. The flesh, 
though not without body, is so relatively thin as to 
be ofi;en embedded in the surrounding darks, and 
in some places it exhibits hatching. 

The enthroned Madonna and Child surrounded 
by the patron saints of Perugia, now in the Vatican, 
is a fine and well-preserved specimen of the master. 
The usual prominence of the darks, and the usual 
difference in substance between the flesh and the 
draperies, are again observable. The blue drapery 


of the Madonna, and the green of the saint reading, 
are both thick — the blue extremely so. The sur- 
face has suffered but little fix)m cracks, but where 
they appear the varieties follow the conditions 
before noticed. The minute cracks of the lake 
drapery of the bishop with the crozier show the 
white ground within, now varnished to a cream 
colour. The substantial shadows of the blue 
drapery show marks of the brush, not to be con- 
founded with hatching. 

Some other pictures of the master in the same 
gallery (the Vatican) may be here noticed. A 
Nativity (from Spinola, near Todi), painted about 
1500, exhibits the same qualities. The hands of 
the Madonna are embedded in the surrounding 
draperies; the blue is extremely thick and cracked, 
but has been much restored; the red drapery is 
hatched in the shadows. The flesh is so thin as 
sometimes to show the outline underneath — a dark 
single line; the shadows of the flesh are a little 
hatched; this is also observable in the head of 
Joseph ascribed to Raphael. 

In the picture of the Resurrection (1502) in the 
Vatican the flesh is very thinly painted, the boun- 
daries of the surroimding colours, of whatever kind, 
being much more prominent; the flesh is in this 
case free from hatching. 

The celebrated Ascension, now at Lyons, has 
been transferred from wood to cloth. After a picture 
has undergone this process, however safe that pro- 


xjess may sometimes be, the finer inequalities of the 
original surface, the relative prominence of darks 
and lights, are less distinguishable. In this case 
either the operation or the subsequent cleaning has 
considerably injured the effect of this once finely- 
coloured work ; still, the peculiarities already 
noticed are plainly to be traced. The surface of 
three predella pictures which are in the public 
gallery at Rouen (and there erroneously ascribed 
to Raphael) is sufficiently well preserved. They 
represent the Adoration of the Magi, the Baptism, 
and the Resurrection : of these tiie Baptism is the 
best. In the Adoration of the Magi a figure occurs 
on the left (with the drapery hanging from the 
shoulders behind, iree of the figure), which is 
repeated in the Cittk della Pieve wall painting, and 
appears to have suggested the St. John in Raphael's 
picture at Blenheim.* In these predella pic- 
tures the flesh is thinly painted, and, as in the 
former specimens described, is embedded in the 
surrounding colours — the darks, and especially 
the blues and greens, having the usual relative 
thickness. The sky is somewhat more solidly 
painted than the flesh, the substance of the trees, 
whether blue or green, relieved on the sky, is 

Of the figures of saints which also adorned the 

* Two smaU pictures, replicas hj Raphael of the Baptism 
and Besarrection, in the possession of the King of Bavai'ia, 
are copies from the corresponding subjects at Rouen. 


altar-piece of the Ascension, six returned to Pe- 
rugia, and three are in the Vatican Gallery. In 
the latt-er more or less hatching is observable ; the 
shadows only in the flesh of the S. Benedetto are 
cracked, the lights not being at all so. This last 
peculiarity is indeed almost universally the case in 
Perugino's works, and is a consequence of the thin- 
ness with which the flesh was painted. The hands 
of the aged S. Placido show white lights like a 
chalk drawing, and the flesh of the S. Flavia is 
hatched throughout. The backgrounds of these 
heads appear to be repainted, for in Orsini's time 
they were all, according to him, of the colour of 

The interesting picture of the Sposalizio, which 
was followed so closely by Raphael in his celebrated 
small picture of that subject, is now the chief orna- 
ment of the museum at Caen, in Normandy. The 
picture had suflfered in the last century by over- 
cleaning, and the original thinness of the flesh is 
here so much reduced that the white ground is in 
some places scarcely covered; the flesh does not 
• appear to be hatched. The blues, even of distant 
figures, and the green drapery of the high priest, 
are prominent; the glazing colour in the green 
drapery above the hand of Joseph which the high 
priest holds, has accumulated there, indicating the 

* Orsini, Vita di P. Perugino, p. 160. These pictures, with 
others now in Perugia, were copied by Sassoferrato. — Ib^ 
p. 160, and note. 


flow or drop of the vehicle. The darks in the blue 
drapery of the Virgin are blistered and rough, A 
small picture of St. Jerome by Perugino, in the 
same gallery (Caen), probably part of an altar 
decoration, is thinly painted, and here and there 
exhibits hatching. 

The picture of the Nativity painted for S. 
Antonio Abbate at Perugia, and now in the Louvre, 
is in excellent preservation, and clearly exhibits 
the peculiarities of the master's practice. The 
kings or magi are represented arriving in the 
middle distance. All the darks, in distant as well 
as in near objects, are more prominent than the 
lights. The blues and greens, the former especially, 
have the greatest apparent body; minute darks, 
such as stems of trees, appear embossed. The flesh 
is throughout embedded in the surrounding colours, 
but is blended and free from hatching. This pic- 
ture was not numbered in the catalogue of the 
contents of the Louvre in 1815. A Holy Family 
by the master, No. 1161, exhibits partial hatch- 
ings, the raised darks have in this case suffered 
more ; the thick vehicle used with the shadow is 
betrayed by the minute darks, such as the divisions 
of fingers, where they appear as projecting ridges 
opposed to the thin flesh. In a figure of St. Paul, 
by Perugino, No. 1355, the transparent colour in 
the green drapery appears to have flowed where 
the green meets the red, and again on the under 
side of the right arm. 


A picture of the Assumption painted in 1500 
for the monks of Vallombrosa, and now in the 
gallery of the Florentine Academy, exhibits the 
same general qualities as the former specimens 
described. In this and in some other pictures by 
the master, the thick vehicle with which the glazing 
colours were applied is sometimes grained by the 
hairs of a larger brush. The flesh is thin, and in 
this instance both flesh and draperies are hatched. 
A small Madonna in * the Pitti Gallery may close 
this sufiiciently numerous list of examples ; in it all 
the darks are raised, those even in the features and 
extremities, as in the dark line of separation, before 
noticed, between the fingers. The flesh is thin, and, 
as well as other portions, is partially hatched. 

Referring to the Vallombrosa picture (the date 
of which is unquestionable) and to other examples, 
it thus appears that the system of hatching in oil 
pictures was more or less retained by Perugino in 
the best period of his practice. As this mode of 
execution was not derived from his fellow-students, 
the scholars of Verocchio, nor fi-om the best ex- 
amples of the Flemish process, it is only to be 
explained by his habits in tempera painting — a 
process which he practised to the last, and which 
may have influenced his hand. In the Citti della 
Pieve wall painting (1504), and in the single figures 
in fresco in S. Severe at Perugia (1521), Gaye* 

♦ See contribution to the Kunst-BlaUy 1837, p. 271, bj this 


remarks an excess of this hatching, and a want of 
due finish in consequence. It is seldom employed 
to excess or so as to impair the effect of his oil 
paintings, and in some of them is hardly introduced 
at all. Such a system, designs being ready, was 
favourable to the rapidity with which Perugino's 
later works were executed, but in those later works 
it was mechanical rapidity only, and no longer 
accompanied by vigour or depth. It is remarkable 
that with such a feeling for force and richness of 
colour as his best works exhibit — qualities in which 
he surpassed most of his contemporaries — he should 
in many cases retain a mode of execution not only 
not required in oil painting, but which its means 
enabled the artist to dispense with. Whatever 
may be said in favour of such a method, it must be 
admitted that it is not characteristic of oil painters, 
and that it is not to be found as a systematic mode 
of execution in the works of the best masters. 

With such powers as a colourist in oil as the 
Vatican picture, the Ascension, and other speci- 
mens exhibit, it is not to be supposed that Perugino 
leaned rather to tempera than to the new method ; 
but it has been sometimes a question whether 
certain of his works — not, it is true, the most 
celebrated — are in tempera or in oil. It is known 
that the Italian painters towards the close of the 
fifteenth century, in their transition from the one 
method to the other, frequently completed tempera 
pictures with oleo-resinous colours. A Madonna 


by Ingegno, a few years since in the Metzger col- 
lection in Florence, may be cited as an example.* 
Long before the introduction of the Flemish method, 
portions of tempera pictures, as we Have seen, were 
covered with transparent oleo-resinous glazings, 
and as the whole work was finally varnished with 
"vemice liquida," such partial tintings were not 
inharmonious. In the more extensive subsequent 
use of this system, the flesh and sky were always 
covered least, and many a work in which the 
process now seems ambiguous has more or less the 
qualities of an oil painting throughout, except in 
those parte, which are sometimes only slightly 
toned by the final general varnish. When the oleo- 
resinous tinting is carried still ferther, the work b 
to all intents an oil picture. 

The practice of the Italians, at first reluctant to 
quit tempera for the new mode, and adopting half 
measures, explains the origin of oil painting and 
the peculiarities of its early process; the use of 
tinted oil varnishes being of very ancient date. 
Even in the Venetian school early works of Bellini, 
assumed to be in oil, have been sometimes dis- 
covered, too late, to be in tempera — the surface, after 
the removal of the varnish, having jrielded to the 
application of moisture.f 

As the apparently capricious treatment of pic- 

* See Passavant, vol. i. p. 503. 

f See Zanetti, Delia Pittura Yeneziana, pp. 47-48. 


tures, in regard to their subjects, has been some- 
times traced to the will of the employer rather than 
to that of the painter, so the method or process to 
be adopted was not always decided by the latter; 
but, however this may be, the occasional union of 
tempera and oil painting by Perugino may be con- 
sidered an attempt on his part to introduce the 
new mode rather than to cling to the old. 

From the examples adduced it appears that the 
practice of Perugino as an oil painter differed from 
that of Leonardo and Lorenzo di Credi chiefly in 
the treatment of the flesh. In Perugmo it is almost 
invariably thin, and not unfrequently exhibits the 
white ground underneath. In the works of his 
two fellow-students this indication of want of body 
is scarcely ever to be remarked, and tracings of 
hatching are equally rare. As a colourist, Perugino 
in his best time was superior to both. In the 
tinting of his pictures, he fearlessly employed the 
rich varnishes of the Flemish masters, and his use 
of them appears, with few exceptions, to have been 
according to the original methods before described. 
His blues and greens are thickly protected with the 
"white varnish;" his flesh tints, transparent reds, 
and glowing colours are applied with the warmer 
sandarac varnish, which is profusely used in the 
shadows and deeper local colours. In the use of 
this — the " red varnish" — Perugino seems to have 
contented himself with the " vemice liquida" (san- 



darac and linseed oil) ; his shadows, if painted 
with the firmer amber varnish, would hardly have 
exhibited the cracked appearance which Vasari 
noticed so soon after the date of the artist, and 
which is still apparent. For a considerable time, 
if not exposed to violent changes of tempera- 
ture, the sandarac oil varnish, as already observed, 
is quite equal in its effects to the finer composi- 
tion, and is unsurpassed in gloss. The parsimo- 
nious habits which were attributed to Perugino 
may explain his preference of the least costly 
materials, and may account for his common use in 
draperies of the " azurro della Magna" — indicated 
by the abundant protecting varnish which ultrama- 
rine did not require. In some cases — for example, 
in the Montone altar-piece — according to Orsini, he 
used smalt in tempera on a black preparation.* In 
fresco painting, in which ultramarine is indispen- 
sable, he however employed it freely; and Vasari 
records an anecdote of his dealings with the Prior 
of the Gesuati at S. Giusto alle Mura, from whom 
the painter obtained this colour. f It is supposed, 
and not um'easonably, that Perugino learnt much 
relating to pigments from the friars of that convent, 
who were excellent chemists. The " Secreti" of a 
Gesuato, including various recipes for preparing 

* The practice, according to some, of using smalt in tempera 
was sometimes resorted to by Paul Veronese. See Orsini, 
Descrizione della PiUura, ^c, della Citth di Ascoliy 1790, p. 73. 

t Vasari, vol. i. p. 420. 


colours, and one for purifying linseed oil*, were 
published at Lucca about thirty years after Peru- 
gino's death. If the three oil pictures above noticed, 
originally painted for S. Giusto alle Mura, were, 
as we have supposed, executed before 1480, then 
the honour of being the first in Italy to display the 
resources of the Flemish system, as a means of 
insuring warmth and transparency, may be awarded 
to Perugino, as Giovanni Bellini cannot be said to 
have approached those qualities in oil painting till 
1488. The first works of Perugino, as a colourist, 
were executed about 1495, and of these the altar- 
piece in the Vatican, representing the Madonna and 
Child, surrounded by the patron saints of Perugia, 
is a remarkable example. The sunny glow, con- 
sidered apart from a certain dryness in the forms, 
and certain mannerisms which the painter never 
entirely got rid of, may stand beside the richest 
works of the Venetians. This is the least important 
picture, as to subject and dimensions, which bears 
that datef, but neither of the others — neither the 
Pitti altar-piece, once in S. Chiara, nor the Sposa- 
lizio at Caen, nor the Ascension at Lyons — are so 
well preserved. 

• Vol. i. p. 321, note. 

f The date generally indicates that the picture was com- 
pleted in the year inscribed, but when begun is not always so 
certain. It is hardly to be supposed that the three or four 
large altar-pieces, with the date 1495, were the labour of one 
year only. 

L 2 


The name and works of Francesco Francia are 
readily associated in the memory with those of 
Perugino. In point of time the Bolognese artist 
cannot indeed be classed with the earliest oil 
painters, his first known work being dated 1490. 
Little is known of his education in art ; originally 
a die-engraver, he is said to have first practised 
painting at nearly the age of forty. It has been 
supposed that the works of Perugino, three of 
which adorned churches in Bologna, first inspired 
him with a love of oil painting. His practice, like 
his general taste, has a close affinity with that of 
the Umbrian master, but a comparison of the works 
of both shows that they differed even in some tech- 
nical respects. The best of the altar-pieces which 
Perugino sent to Bologna — that of S. Giovanni in 
Monte — is now in the Bolognese Gallery, where it 
may be compared with several examples of Francia. 
The occasional fondness of the Bolognese painter 
for heightening certain portions of his pictures — 
not only ornaments and rays, but the lights of 
distant trees — with gold, can hardly have been 
^derived from Perugino. With the exception of 
the gold ground of the Mont one altar-piece one 
instance only is cited in the works of Perugino — 
an early picture of the Transfiguration in the 
Chiesa de' Servi at Perugia, in which gilded rays 
were introduced.* In the treatment of the darker 

• The gold rays in question were effaced by an inexpert 
cleaner even in Orsini's time.— See Vita di P. Perugino, p. 21, 


colours and deep shadows Francia closely followed 
the then customary methods. Such portions are 
inserted with a thick oleo-resinous vehicle, but, as 
the extreme darks seldom exhibit the corroded 
appearance which is so common in the oil pictures 
of Perugino, it is to be presumed that the material 
used was not always the sandarac varnish. In the 
lighter vehicles (white varnishes) employed with 
blues and greens there was less choice, and accord- 
ingly, in them (in the blues especially) the eflfects 
of time betray themselves in the works of P^rancia, 
as in other oil pictures of the period. But the chief 
difference in the practice of this painter, as compared 
with that of Perugino, is the greater solidity and 
the fusion of his flesh tints. In his first known 
work, dated 1490, above noted; in that represent- 
ing the Angel of the Annunciation appearing to the 
Virgin in the presence of St. John the Baptist and 
St. Jerome ; and in that of the Nativity — all in the 
gallery at Bologna — the flesh, though in every case 
less prominent in surface than the darks, has con- 
siderable substance, and frequently exhibits the 
fine hair cracks common in Leonardo's works, but 
scarcely ever to be seen in those of Perugino. 
These general peculiarities will be recognised in the 
Francias in the National Gallery, and in a picture 
of the Baptism by the same master at Hampton 
Court. In these examples, besides the common 
characteristics of apparent substance in the trans- 
parent colours and darks, and of greater prominence 


in the blues, and occasionally in the greens, it will 
be seen that the more solid parts of the flesh are 
here and there minutely cracked. Another attri- 
bute of Francia, again differing from Perugino, is 
the blended surface of his flesh, which never ex- 
hibits hatching, or, if ever, only in the fainter 
shadows. It is doubtful even whether such appear- 
ances may not be the hatching of the drawing 
underneath, seen through the thinnest portions of 
the flesh tint. The gallery of the Louvre has no 
specimen of Francia.* In the collection of Count 
Pourtal^s in Paris f there are two specimens; in 
both, the flesh, though less prominent than the sur- 
rounding colours, is solid and fused, and exhibits 
(in the larger specimen chiefly) the fine hair cracks 
before described. 

It has been sometimes said that the manner of 
Francia holds a middle place between that of Peru- 
gino and Giovanni Bellini. This is hardly correct. 
The practice of Francia is rather composed of the 
manner of Leonardo, Lorenzo di Credi, and Perugino. 
The superior solidity of his flesh is attained at the 
cost of some of Perugino's glow, and there is scarcely 
a particular, except perhaps the taste of his back- 
grounds, in which he can be said to approach the 

• At the time this was written there was no Francia in the 
Louvre ; now that gallery possesses a rather inferior specimen. 
It is remarkable that no specimen of this great painter was 
carried off from Italy by the Frencli.— jE^£^ 

t Sold in I860.— i,'c/. 


Venetians more nearly than the Umbrian master. 
Vasari classes the two masters together, and appears 
to consider them the first who, in Central Italy, dis- 
played the resom-ces and the charm of oil painting. 
He tells us that " people crowded with enthusiasm to 
see this new and more real perfection, deeming ab- 
solutely that nothing could ever surpass it." Part of 
the attraction was, or deserved to be, the unaflFected 
religious feeling which pervaded their works ; these 
merits, at all events, are such as still to command 
the homage of a large section of the tasteful world. 
Still, looking at their claims in relation to their 
own age, it must be admitted that, in technical 
respects, this almost exclusive attention to the 
novel excellence which they recommended, ren- 
dered them inattentive to the rapid progress which 
others around them were then making in design. 
Michael Angelo, who had no partiality for oil 
painting, ridiculed them both; and Vasari, after 
the above eulogy, intimates that the ampler style 
of Leonardo da Vinci (the type of which, he might 
have added, was the Last Supper, at Milan) again 
enlarged the boundaries of the art beyond all anti- 
cipations, and gave a new direction to the public 




In pursuing an enquiry into the Italian practice of 
oil painting, it will often be necessary to refer to 
pictures remarkable for their invention and ex- 
pression. That the mere technical peculiarities of 
such works should hitherto have been scarcely 
noticed can excite no surprise. The impressions 
which such productions excite so entirely supersede 
the consideration of the mere art, that we seldom 
feel disposed to enquire what are even their merits 
in the mechanical parts of painting. For the pre- 
sent, however, our attention is professedly confined 
to those outward qualities, and while the subordi- 
nate nature of such researches is admitted, it must 
be evident that examples which are well known, 
and which are remarkable for their preservation 
and general excellence, must be the fittest for our 
purpose. The apology here offered may require 
to be remembered throughout these volumes, but 
it appears to be more especially necessary in ap- 
proaching the consideration of worka which, from 


their chiefly addressing the feelings and imagina- 
tion, generally compel us to overlook their me- 
chanical and material conditions. 

In all technical particulars the early works of 
Raphael, as might be expected, closely resemble 
those of Perugino. His first style was even con- 
firmed for a time in Florence by the example of 
Fra Bartolommeo, who, it will appear, in many 
points closely adhered to the original method of 
oil painting. It was not till the year 1508, and 
immediately before he removed to Rome, that the 
great painter began to adopt the more solid manner 
of Leonardo da Vinci and his followers. In Rome 
that manner was still preferred by him, and if, in 
his later works, some characteristics of the qlder 
method are to be recognised, this is rather to be 
attributed to certain of his scholars who prepared 
his pictures than to any further change in his own 

The method of hatching which the earlier 
pictures of Raphael exhibit is rarely apparent in 
his more mature works. His first essays were 
probably in tempera, like the copy by him, still 
at Perugia, of the two children in the picture 
by Perugino at Marseilles, before mentioned.* 
The two predella pictures of the Baptism and 
Resurrection in the possession of the King of 
Bavaria, which appear to be copied from those by 

* See p. 131. 


Perugino now at Rouen, are either in tempera or, 
if in oil, are hatched according to the habits of a 
tempera painter. Some of the earliest examples 
of Raphael's execution — pictures by Perugino in 
which he assisted — are now in the gallery of the 
Vatican. The picture of the Resurrection has been 
already noticed among the works of Perugino. A 
Nativity, called " II Presepe della Spineta," from 
the church near Todi whence it came, is supposed 
to have been partly painted by Raphael at a very 
early age. This is corroborated by the existence 
of a study by him in black chalk, now in the 
British Museum, for the head of Joseph — the por- 
tion of the picture (otherwise weak) which is most 
worthy of him. In some parts of that figure 
hatchings are observable in the shadows of the 
flesh ; the flesh throughout is very thin, and shows 
the delicate outline like a pencil line through it: 
the blue drapery next the hands of the Madonna 
forms a thick raised boundary round them; the 
red drapery is hatched in the shadows. 

The first altar-piece, and the only Crucifixion 
known to have been painted by Raphael, is now in 
England, in the possession of Earl Dudle}\ It was 
painted for the church of S. Domenico at Gittk di 
Castello, whence it was removed during the French 
occupation of Italy at the close of the last century ; 
it afterwards formed part of the collection of Car- 
dinal Fesch. This interesting work appears to 
have been completed about the year 1500, when 


Raphael was only seventeen years of age; in its 
general treatment, and in certain peculiarities of 
form and action, it closely resembles the style of 
his master, and Vasari remarks that if the name of 
the artist were not inscribed on it, it would be sup- 
posed to be by the hand of Perugino. It has been 
observed that the expression of the head, and par- 
ticularly that of the Magdalen, already evince the 
finer feeling of Raphael; indeed Vasari, even on 
another ground, is hardly correct in the observation 
referred to, since Perugino was at the zenith of his 
practice at the period when this altar-piece was 
executed, and, as regards mere completeness of 
execution and richness of colouring, would un- 
doubtedly have produced a very different work. 
Still, the picture, which is remarkably well pre- 
served, affords the clearest evidence of the adoption 
of Perugino's practice. The outline, which is often 
visible through the thinner portions of the work, 
is drawn on a white ground. The flesh is thin, so 
much so that the hands and other portions appear 
less prominent than the surrounding darker colours 
of draperies; both flesh and draperies are some- 
times hatched. The darks in general are raised; 
this is even apparent in the minute darks of the 
features, showing that a very thick vehicle was 
used with the transparent browns; it is also re- 
markable in the shadows of the blue drapery, and 
in the greens generally. The sky is, as usual, some- 
what more solid than the flesh, and, like some other 


portions, has the appearance of having been painted 
in tempera, but this is a question always difficult 
to determine. 

That the light parts should be almost free from 
cracks is partly explained, as in Perugino's works, 
by the thinness of the pigment; yet the darks, 
often prominent with a rich vehicle, are nearly as 
sound. When it is considered that this altar-piece 
remained for nearly three hundred years in the 
church for which it was painted, its fine state of 
preservation, as compared with that of pictures 
which have, under similar circumstances, gone to 
decay, appears to indicate the use of the firmer 
medium then employed, namely, the amber varnish. 
With respect to the prominence of the minute 
darks, it has already been explained that such por- 
tions, executed with a thick oil varnish, remained 
of necessity more raised than larger surfaces so 
covered, simply because there was less ix>om to 
spread the tint. The same peculiarity is often 
observable in early Italian, as well as Flemish oil 
pictures, in minute lights, such as embossed orna- 
ments. These are prominent, not so much by the 
thickness of the colour as by that of the vehicle. 
In such instartccs, the edges of the touch are blunt, 
and are easily distinguished from the dry crisp 
touch of the solid pigment (with the least possible 
quantity of vehicle), observable in the works of 
some Venetian masters. 

The prominence of the transparent colours gene- 


rally, and of the minuter darks in the features, is to 
be regarded as a test of the good preservation of 
an early oil picture. The inequality of surface is 
less observable on such pictures when painted on 
cloth, as the artists appear to have taken the pre- 
caution not to load the semi-resinous vehicle so 
abundantly on a flexible material, for fear of its 
cracking ; but the smoother appearance in question 
is sometimes to be attributed to the operation of 
lining, in v^hich, in order to secure the adhesion of 
the additional cloth at the back, the picture is sub- 
mitted to great pressure. The same flattening 
result is also likely to take place when pictures 
are transferred from wood to cloth. Raphael's 
Coronation of the Virgin, painted in 1502 for the 
church of S. Francesco in Perugia, and now in the 
Vatican, was, in consequence of the decay of the 
wood, necessarily thus treated in Paris, whither it 
was conveyed in 1797 from its original place. The 
operation appears to have been better performed than 
that of restoration, the effects of which are trace- 
able here and there in darkened spots. The flesh, 
in this work, is extremely thin, appearing, as usual, 
embedded in the surrounding colours; the out- 
lines, as in the feet of the Apostles, are visible here 
and there through the pigment. The blue drapery 
of the Madonna is corroded, and has a dull sur- 
face in consequence of that gritty appearance of 
the colour before described; a similar appearance 
is observable in the darks. The brilliant green 


drapery is extremely thick, and is now covered 
with horizontal, slightly projecting ridges (pro- 
bably following the fibres of the wood, and occa- 
sioned by its contraction); it is cracked in the 
shadows, where the vehicle is still more abundant. 
The corroded effect in some darks is here to be 
attributed to the use of the sandarac oil varnish 
("vemice liquida"), while the mastic oil varnish 
("vemice chiara") is clearly indicated in the green. 
The three predella pictures belonging to this 
altar-piece are also in the Vatican Gallery; the 
subjects are, on the left, the Annunciation; on the 
right, the Presentation in the Temple; in the 
centre, the Adoration of the Kings* The same 
general peculiarities as regards execution and 
materials are here observable: the angels' dark 
wings in the Annunciation are very prominent in 
surface ; the flesh, which is remarkably thin, is not 
at all hatched (the figures being small), but is 
highly finished and fused — its surface is very per- 
ceptibly lower than that of the surrounding colours. 
A portion of the blue distance in the centre picture 
is more raised than any other part; the darks of 
the lake draperies are also very prominent. In the 
third picture, the Presentation, the shadows of the 
yellow drapery are hatched; a green drapery has 
much less vehicle than usual, and has faded in 
consequence: the effects of the protecting "vemice 
chiara," and of the want of it, may here be com- 
pared in the same altar-piece, the greens in the 


large picture being remarkably fresh. The gesso 
ground of these predella pictures is visible at the 
edge, showing that it is as thick as in the early 
Flemish pictures. 

The Vision of a Knight, in the National Galleiy, 
is placed by Passavant in chronological order after 
the last : it may have been painted about the year 

1503. The finish of the flesh in this small work 
resembles that of the predella pictures last de- 
scribed; here, too, the minuteness of the size ren- 
ders the thinness of the flesh less remarkable, but 
its relative thinness as compared with the darks 
is immediately obsei'vable. The purplish dress of 
the figure with the sword, the greens and blues, 
are all much raised ; the lakes, as usual, more in 
the shadows : the minute darks, as in the nearer 
tree, and the small tree in the landscape also pro- 
ject. The sky has considerable body, but not 
more than the distant mountains: the most pro- 
minent portions of the picture are, as usual, the 
darks. The gesso ground is visible at the edges ; 
some indications of gilding on the ground next the 
border are probably derived from the frame. 

The same general appearances are to be traced 
in the celebrated Sposalizio at Milan, painted in 

1504. In that work the opaque colours are some- 
times so thin that the outlines, especially of the 
architecture, are visible through them; the darks, 
some of which appear to have increased, are, as 
usual, prominent. 


From 1505 to 1508 the gradual influence of 
Florentine examples is to be traced in the works 
of Raphael; yet less, for a time, in modes of exe- 
cution than in general taste. The smaller pic- 
ture of a Madonna and Child, in the possession 
of Earl Cowper at Panshanger, belongs to the 
earlier date, and, from its excellent preservation, is 
a remarkable example of the methods hitherto 
described. The flesh is extremely thin, and is 
highly hatched here and there in the half-shadows ; 
the sky is somewhat thicker; the darks are pro- 
minent, especially the green and blue draperies: 
the blue drapery is so thick, that where the colour 
is inserted between the fingers of the Madonna's 
hand it has the appearance of a solid wedge. In 
this instance the "vernice chiara," or mastic oil 
varnish, must have been used : the cracks are large 
or continuous, having the usual appearance of 
mastic cracks. The varnish was probably made 
extremely thick, to correct its tendency to flow; it 
has also answered the intended effect of preserving 
the " azurro della Magna." 

The Ansidei altar-piece, now at Blenheim, has 
the date 1505 — or 1506.* The picture is in ex- 
cellent preservation : the broader shadows in most 
of the heads and necks are a little hatched; the 
Madonna's head is more thinly painted than the 
rest, but the flesh is nowhere cracked ; the sky is 

* Mr. Gruner, the well-known engraver, reads 1506 ; Passa- 
vantj 1505. 


more solid, but still is not so prominent as the 
darks, immediately next it, of the baldachin or 
throne behind the Madonna : the darks are always 
prominent, the edges often appearing in ridges. The 
green drapery of St, Nicholas, which has the same 
peculiarity, is rough, as if painted with ill-ground 
colour ; the blue drapery of the Madonna is much 
raised in the shadows, and is roughened by cracks 
of the " vernice chiara." The lights on the blue 
drapery are hatched ; the red drapery of St. John 
was prepared for glazing by a more solid prepara- 
tion than usual; the shadows are, however, still 
comparatively raised. Some lines, as in the archi- 
tecture of the Sposalizio, are indented; the cross 
held by St. Nicholas has this appearance. The 
ground was white ; it is seen through some rubbed 
parts, as in the left leg of the child. The com- 
parative solidity of the lights in this picture may 
be an additional reason for reading the date 1506 
rather than 1505; at the same time it is certain 
that other works by Raphael, executed at a some- 
what later period in Florence, are again thinner in 
the opaque colours, as if the artist fluctuated 
between the influence of Fra Bartolommeo and 
Leonardo da Vinci. The rapidity with which some 
of these works were executed, when once the 
design was completed, may, however, suiBciently 
account for such apparent varieties. 

To the same period (about 1506) belongs the 
St. Catherine in the National Gallery. Various 

VOL. n. M 


studies for this figure exist, and the cartoon of the 
size of the picture is in the Louvre. In the flesh, 
the painting is so thin that the hatched outline on 
the white ground — for example, in the neck — is dis- 
tinctly seen through the colour. The sky, though 
still thin, is somewhat more raised than the flesh. 
The darks are all prominent, even to the shadows 
of the features. The hands are embedded in the 
darks immediately round them. The toned green 
of the sleeve, glazed over a light preparation, is, 
as usual, prominent. The lake drapery appears to 
have been prepared with bright lights; still the 
comparative prominence of the shadows is apparent; 
the same peculiarity is observable in the trees and 
near leaves in the landscape. The picture is in 
excellent preservation; the lights are free from 
cracks, and there is only a slight tendency to the 
corroded effect, so often described, of the sandarac 
varnish in some unimportant parts of the lake 

The picture of the Entombment of Christ, now 
in the Borghese Gallery at Rome, has the date 
1507. The outlines on the white ground are, in 
this instance, much thicker than usual, as if in- 
serted with a brush; they are visible in many 
parts of the figure carrying the body (at tlie head), 
in the left arm of the opposite supporting figure 
(at the feet), and in the Madonna's head. The 
flesh in the figure of the Christ is much more 
finished than in the others; it is more solid, and, 


except in some shadows, is free from hatching. 
In other portions — as in the Madonna's head, in the 
hands of the female clasped round her, and in those 
of the other holding her up — ^hatching is very per- 
ceptible. The hair of the supporting figure at the 
feet of the Christ is also expressed by lines, as is 
the yellow hair of the kneeling female. Notwith- 
standing the comparative solidity of the figure of 
the Christ, the whole mass with its accompanying 
drapery is embedded in the surrounding darks. 
This is the appearance of the flesh throughout, 
with the single exception of the profile of the man 
holding the legs, the surface of which is somewhat 
more raised than the dark landscape background 
on which it is relieved. The green and blue 
draperies are much the thickest parts of the pic- 
ture, the green being uniformly raised, the blue 
most in the shadows. Both are cracked ; the green 
indicating the use of the " vernice chiara," and ex- 
hibiting cracks and ridges following the fibre of 
the wood (in this case placed vertically). Some 
cracks in the light portions are traceable to the 
same cause, as distinguished from cracks in the pig- 
ment itself. These latter are nowhere apparent. 

Of the last works executed by Raphael in 
Florence, it will be sufficient to mention two — 
the larger Madonna at Panshanger, which has the 
date 1508, and the "Belle Jardiniere*' in the 
Louvre, supposed, on good grounds, to be the pic- 
ture which Raphael left with the blue drapery 



unfiniBhed, and which, in that portion, was com- 
pleted by Ridolfo Ghirlandajo. The picture at 
Panshanger can be conveniently compared with the 
earlier work, before described (p. 160), in the same 
collection. In the later work the flesh has more 
body, so that the surface has here and there fine hair- 
like cracks, like those already noticed in Leonardo 
da Vinci. The gi'een and blue portions of the 
drapery are much raised, the darks are universally 
so, and the blue sky is more prominent than the 

In the " Belle Jardiniere," although the sky is 
thicker than the flesh, the latter has considerable 
body in the lights, while in the thinner faint 
shadows hatching is here and there apparent. The 
more solid parts of the flesh have the same hair- 
like cracks as the specimen last described. The 
darks throughout are prominent, the blue drapery 
is especially so, and appears to have been painted 
with much vehicle. The work of the brush is 
visible in the semi-solid colour. 

These examples have been selected from among 
many others, partly because their dates are more 
accurately determinable. In comparing the tech- 
nical qualities, to which our attention is, for the 
present, confined, with those before noticed in the 
first Florentine oil painters and in Leonardo da 
A^inci, it will now be apparent that Raphael, espe- 
cially in his more elaborate and studied works, 
gradually adopted the system of painting the flesh 


with substance. In the absence of unfinished pic- 
tures of his later time, it may be inferred that this 
more solid execution was the result, as in Leo- 
nardo's case, of repeated operations. This method 
afforded the means of revising the forms ; but it is 
remarkable that this advantage was never abused 
by Raphael. To the last his preparatory outline 
was definite, and his corrections rarely differed 
much from the design which, after numerous 
sketches and studies, was fixed as the ground- 
work of the picture. Examples of a very opposite 
practice by some of the colourists will hereafter be 
noticed. There can be no doubt that habits of 
decision and of mental activity are best cultivated 
by determining the design at first, while the oppo- 
site practice of relying on the facility with which 
alterations may be made in oil painting tends at 
least to procrastinate the needful exertion. It is 
curious to compare, in this respect, the pentimenti 
(after-thoughts or corrections) of Raphael with 
those of Leonardo da Vinci. The Adoration of the 
Magi, before described, by Leonardo, shows how 
soon the artist's experience of the possibility of 
correcting an oil painting by repeated operations 
led him, in the instance quoted at least, to capri- 
cious changes and apparent indecision. At a later 
period, painters accustomed to a very different 
practice would have easily remedied the mere out- 
ward defects thus occasioned ; but Leonardo, fasti- 
dious in regard to the process as well as the design, 


appears to have thrown aside the sketch, which 
perhaps he felt he had marred, in disgust. 

As before explained, Leonardo appears to have 
gradually adopted (perhaps invented) the system 
of repainting, in order to reserve the power of im- 
proving his forms and expressions. It will now 
appear that Raphael, in following that method, 
may have been influenced by a conviction that the 
work was likely to be more durable by being solidly 
executed. It is true he found another advantage 
in departing from the " alia prima " method of the 
early oil painters. As occupation crowded upon 
him, he must have soon looked forward to the 
employment of assistants, and it seems that, even 
in Florence, he sometimes availed himself of such 
means of gaining time. In such a system re- 
peated operations are indispensable. The abbozzo^ 
or under-painting, however thinly executed by an 
assistant on the outline (perhaps traced by the 
scholar, and afterwards corrected by the master), 
would, in most cases, be entirely covered again by 
the master's work, and thus a certain thickness of 
the colour would be unavoidable. The question is 
so far interesting, inasmuch as all pictures executed 
so thinly as to indicate one operation only, must, if 
exhibiting other sufficient evidence of their authen- 
ticity, have been painted by the master alone. 
But the pr6of that Raphael aimed at solidity in his 
later works, from a belief that such a mode of 
execution insured their durability, is to be found 


in his later portraits — works in which the heads at 
least must have been executed by his own hand. 
The portrait of Julius II. in the Pitti Palace, of 
which there are numerous repetitions, is thus 
solidly painted; that of Leo X. in the same gallery, 
that of Count Castiglione in the Louvre, that of 
the Violin Player in the Sicarra Palace at Rome, 
with many others, have the same quality, as dis- 
tinguished from the more thinly painted portraits 
of the Florentine period, such as those of Agnolo 
and Maddelena Doni, and others. 

On Raphael's arrival in Rome in 1508, he was 
soon engaged in preparing designs for the Vatican 
frescoes, and during the pontificate of Julius, who 
died in 1513, his oil pictures are not numerous. 
Among them may be mentioned the " Vierge au 
Diademc " (called also " Le Sommeil de J^sus "), 
now in the Louvre ; the Madonna and Child in the 
Stafford Gallery; and the Madonna di Foligno. 
In these and other oil pictures of the same period 
by the great artist, although the co-operation of 
assistants is in some cases to be supposed, the 
work may have been entirely covered by the 
master's hand. The three pictures referred to all 
exhibit, together with the prominent darks of the 
old practice, a thicker impasto in the flesh. In the 
first named — the " Vierge au Diademe " — the flesh 
in the sleeping infant exhibits the fine cracks so per- 
ceptible in the works of Leonardo. In other tech- 
nical respects the habits of the early oil paintera 


are apparent; the darks are raised, and the blue 
drapery on which the infant sleeps is extremely 
thick. In the graceful Madonna and Child in the 
Bridgewater Gallery the flesh has the usual cracks, 
and the blue drapery is extremely prominent, so as 
to make the flesh near it appear embedded. The 
Madonna di Foligno, in the Vatican Gallery, was 
transferred from wood to cloth in Paris, and, for the 
reasons before given (p. 139), perhaps the original 
varieties in the surface may have been somewhat 
obliterated in the process. Still, the greater pro- 
minence of the darks is here and there to be 
observed, as, for instance, in the green background 
next the boy standing below. The flesh is, how- 
ever, much more solid throughout than in the early 
works of the master: the most prominent darks 
are the shadows in the grey dress of St. Francis. 

During the remainder of his laborious life, from 
1513 to 1520, the number of Raphael's under- 
takings rendered it necessary for him to depend 
more than ever on the assistance of his now nume- 
rous scholars. All the oil pictures of this period 
are remarkable for the thicker painting of the flesh ; 
in some which have been transferred from wood to 
cloth, the difi^erence between the surface of the 
flesh and that of the darks is scarcely perceptible. 
This is the case in the large Holy Family, now in 
the Louvre, painted for Francis I. (1518), in which 
the hand and colouring of Giulio Romano are ap- 
parent, agreeing with V^sari's statement respecting 


that painter's assistance in the work. The large 
St. Michael, in the Louvre, also transferred from 
wood to cloth, is in the same state ; but the thicker 
impasto of the flesh is here not to be mistaken. In 
the Madonna della Sedia in the Pitti Palace, the flesh 
has again much substance; but in this instance all 
the darks are raised, and the green drapery is espe- 
cially thick. Lastly, in the Transfiguration, which 
is still on its original wood, although the flesh has 
considerable body, the darks are all raised round 
it, and the blues and greens remarkably so. The 
shadows of the blue drapery of the woman kneeling 
in the foreground are loaded with vehicle, which 
has cracked widely. The sky is, as usual, more 
raised than the flesh, which is evident where they 
come in contact — as in the undraped portions of 
the figure of Christ. The heads and extremities of 
the figures kneeling on the left, though thickly 
painted, are embedded in the surrounding darker 

These examples are sufficient to prove that the 
process of transferring large pictures from wood to 
cloth tends to efiace the varieties of surface, thus 
obliterating indications which throw great light on 
the early history of oil painting. It is not to be 
supposed that the difiference which has been pointed 
out in the larger pictures so transferred, as com- 
pared with better preserved specimens, is to be ex- 
plained by the different habits and practice of 
Raphael's scholars. One of the altar-pieces which 


he liad early engaged to paint was, in consequence 
of his increasing occupations, so long deferred that 
the design only appeal's to have been ready at his 
death. The subject of this work, originally in the 
convent of Monte Luce, near Perugia, and now in 
the Vatican, is the Coronation of the Virgin. Four 
yeara after Raphael's decease his two principal 
scholars and executors — Giulio Romano and Fran- 
cesco Penni — undertook to complete the work; 
Giulio painting the upper portion, and Francesco 
the lower (the picture, executed on wood, being 
composed of two separate parts). In this work the 
treatment of the flesh, as compared with that of 
the darks in regard to surface, corresponds with 
Raphael's later manner. We find the same system 
in a Nativity by Giulio Romano in the Louvre. 
In this instance, while the flesh is comparatively 
solid, the blue drapery of the Madonna and the 
green dress of St. John the Evangelist are, as usual, 
prominent, from the quantity of varnish used with 

The foregoing observations show that the method 
of Raphael and his scholars ultimately approached 
that of Leonardo. The main characteristic, as dis- 
tinguished from the earlier practice, and from that 
of Perugino, being that the flesh and light portions 
of the work acquired a certain solidity — the result 
of repeated operations after the outline was com- 
pleted — so that the intennediate process, prepara- 
tory painting, or abbozzo^ could be entrusted to a 


scholar. The authority of two such masters was 
more than suiBcient to establish this method in the 
Florentine and Roman schools, and we shall now 
see that the words of Vasari, in his Introduction^ 
where he treats of the first Italian practice of oil 
painting, have a peculiar and just meaning. After 
speaking of the Flemish inventors of the method, 
and of AntoneUo da Messina's residence in Venice, 
he adds : — " it continued to be improved till the 
time of Pietro Perugino, Leonardo da Vinci, and 
Raphael ; so that, through their means, it has been 
brought to the perfection which our artists have 
since imparted to it." It is quite excusable in 
Vasari to suppose that the new art had attained 
perfection in Tuscany. Perhaps the example he 
had in his view at the time he wrote was Andrea 
del Sarto — a consummate painter as well as de- 
signer, and who inherited the technical ability, 
though not all the higher qualifications, of the two 
great masters above named. In the " Proemio," or 
preface, to the third part of his work, Vasari still 
gives the first place to Raphael, and, after describ- 
ing his various excellences, adds : — " Andrea del 
Sarto followed in the same style ; that is, only was 
more delicate and less robust {gagliardo) in colour- 
ing."* The last epithet, applied to Raphael's co- 
louring, is borne out chiefly by his frescoes of the 

• " Segul in questa maniera, ma pih dolce di colon to, e non 
tanta gagliarda." — Vasari, Proemio alia terza Parte, p. 442. 


Mass of Bolsena and the Heliodorus. It is also 
applicable to some of his oil pictures, in which, pro- 
bably emulating Sebastian del Piombo, he aims for 
a time at greater warmth in the flesh. His pic- 
tures of this class are, however, rather fiery than 
golden, and the manner cannot be considered cha- 
racteristic. It was adopted, and sometimes carried 
to excess, by one of his scholars, Perino del Vaga, 
who, again, in assisting Raphael, may have im- 
parted it somewhat too largely to the works in 
which he co-operated. 

Among the early Florentine oil painters none 
comprehended the resources of the new art better 
than Baccio dclla Porta, afterwards, when he be- 
came a Dominican monk, called Fra Bartolommeo. 
He was bom in 1475, and having, in the last yeara 
of the century, become a zealous follower of Savo- 
narola, he was so deeply affected by that reformer's 
fate that he quitted the world for the cloister in 
1500. Among those united with him by a re- 
ligious aim in art, and by attachment to the 
preacher, was Lorenzo di Credi, whose predilec- 
tion for oil painting has been already noticed, and 
who, from his ripe age and experience, was well 
qualified to instruct Bartolommeo in the mysteries 
of the new art. Another circumstance may also 
have had its influence: the younger artist was 
commissioned to paint a fresco of the I^ast Judg- 


ment in the chapel of the cemetery in S. Maria 
Nuova. While employed on that work Barto- 
lommeo must have had daily opportunities of 
making his observations on the chapel of the hos- 
pital, which, as we have seen, exhibited specimens 
of Flemish oil paintings. On these examples his 
practice in the new art, considered without re- 
ference to his general taste, appears to have been 
formed. On his change of life, Fra Bartolommeo, 
stricken in spirit, for a time abandoned the pencil : 
the fresco above mentioned was left half finished, 
and was completed by his fellow-student and fol- 
lower, Mariotto Albertinelli. The remains of this 
fresco have been removed from the chapel of the 
cemetery to a neighbouring cortile. 

Fra Bartolommeo, or, as he is commonly called 
by way of distinction, the Frate, may, on the 
whole, be considered the best colourist of the Flo- 
rentine school. His adherence to the Flemish 
method of oil painting is apparent in the thinness 
of his flesh tints, as compared with the works of 
Lorenzo di Credi, Leonardo da Vinci, and the 
later pictures of Raphael. In this peculiarity, in- 
deed, he sometimes, like Perugino, went beyond 
the inventors of the art, and perhaps there are no 
Flemish masters so thin in the lights (especially 
when we consider the dimensions of his works) as 
Fra Bartolommeo. The softness of his gradations 
is to be traced to Leonardo, but in emulating the 
force and roundness of that painter, he at one time 


fell into the defect of blackness ; and as, according 
to Vasari, he used lampblack, the evil has, in the 
cases alluded to, since increased. His best pictures 
are quite free from this opacity in the darks, and, 
with equal force, have a luminous transparency 
and depth in the lower tones ; exhibiting, in large 
dimensions, the vivid clearness of the Flemish 
manner combined with greater softness and far 
nobler forms. 

Of the Madonnas painted by Fra Bartolommeo 
in his youth, and which are alluded to by Vasari, 
none can with certainty be pointed out. A smaller 
work, belonging to the same period, is a shrine 
which served to enclose a small statue of the Virgin, 
by Donatello. On the inner sides of the doors 
are represented the Nativity and the Presentation 
in the Temple; on the outer, in chiaroscuro, the 
Annunciation. These delicately executed oil paint- 
ings, but a few inches high, are now in the gallery 
of the Uffizj. In a miniature size even a painter 
accustomed to a thin execution unavoidably treats 
the flesh tints and lights with more body than in 
his larger works — as is observable in Raphael's 
" Vision of a Knight," as compared with larger 
specimens of the master corresponding with it in 
date. It is not, however, unlikely that, during 
Bartolommeo's intercourse with Lorenzo di Credi, 
his works may have partaken more of the solidity 
of that painter's manner. Still, in these minute 
works, the darks are more prominent than the flesh ; 


but not the blue, which, in this case, may well be 
supposed to be ultramarine. 

The four years which, according to Vasari, 
Bartolommeo passed without exercising his art are 
to be reckoned, not from his taking the vows, but 
from the troublous period which ended in the 
execution of Savonarola in 1498. The first work 
executed by him afterwards (in the beginning of the 
following century) was the altar-piece representing 
the Vision of St. Bernard, formerly in the Badia 
di Firenze, and now in the Florentine Academy, 
This picture has been much injured and repainted, 
and perhaps in consequence of its various clean- 
ings and restorations, now presents little variety of 
surface. The flesh is thinly painted, but has suf- 
ficient substance to conceal in most places the dark 
outline: an original correction is apparent in the 
St, John's foot, where a second outline appears 
above the first painting. In this, as in various 
pictures of the time, the ruled lines of architec- 
ture are indented in the gesso ground. The Holy 
Family, with the Infant St. John, painted for the 
favourite chapel of Agnolo Doni, is now in the 
Corsini Palace in Rome. This picture exhibits, in 
an extreme degree, the peculiar transparent system 
of the Frate. Whatever care may have been taken 
with the design, it is difficult to suppose any under- 
painting, properly so called, in a work which has 
so little body. The white or yellowish ground is 
everywhere visible underneath the lights, and as 


these, in the fairer carnations, are not very broken 
in tone, the flesh has a bright, but almost too clean 
an appearance at a distance, as in the fine specimen 
of the master at Panshanger. This approach to 
crudeness is sometimes, doubtless, the result of inju- 
dicious cleaning, but it is partly to be explained, 
as we shall hereafter see, from other causes. Even 
the haip of St. John shows the ground through 
the lights, and the only parts of the flesh which 
have any approach to body are the lighter por- 
tions of the Infant Christ. The brown outline on 
the ground is frequently apparent, especially round 
the limbs of the children ; the flesh, which is not 
at all cracked, is blended or fused, and fi'ee from 
hatching. Some of the draperies are intensely 
deep and rich, the darker colours, and especially 
their shadows, being applied with a thick vehicle. 
The shadowed portion of the red drapery of St. 
Joseph projects in a ridge next the face of the 
Madonna; the whole surface of this drapeiy is 
covered with the minute cracks of the red " vernice 
liquida." The only colour which has much sub- 
stance in the light is the blue drapery of the 
Madonna — a substance in this case not produced 
by the vehicle, but by solid painting, afterwards 
slightly glazed ; the bro^vn transparent shadows, on 
the contrary, are extremely thick with the oleo- 
resinous varnish, and form a projecting surface 
round the Infant's legs. 

Vasari, in the commencement of his Life of Fra 


Bartolommeo, after speaking of his first studies 
with Cosimo Rosselli (from whom he could learn 
nothing of oil painting), immediately proceeds to 
teU us that he studied with great interest the works 
of Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo had quitted Flo- 
rence after his first residence there when Barto- 
lommeo was about twelve years old. The works 
which he left in Tuscany may, undoubtedly, have 
had their influence, but it was after his return in 
1500 that an imitation of his works by the Frate 
is to be observed. The St. Bernard, above men- 
tioned, though painted after that date, has, however, 
no approach to the intense force and soft gradation 
which the younger artist admired in the works of 
Leonardo. In these qualities alone is the imita- 
tion in question to be at any time traced in the 
Frate; for the general thinness of the opaque 
colours, even in his mature works, differed widely 
from the practice of Leonardo, and from that of 
his own early companion, Lorenzo di Credi. 

A picture representing the marriage of St. Cathe- 
rine, painted for St. Mark's (the convent of the 
Frate), and presented it appears in Vasari's time 
to the King of France, is now in the Louvre. The 
flesh, which is thin and free from cracks, is em- 
bedded in the surrounding colours, the darks, 
blues, and greens being treated in the usual way. 
The red (lake) draperies of Fra Bartolommeo are 
sometimes executed at once with the transparent 
colour on the light ground; in this instance the 



outlines on the ground are seen through it: the 
sandarac vehicle used in the shadows has here 
and there become corroded ; in the green lining of 
the Madonna's blue drapery the cracks indicate the 
use of the white varnish. Another picture of this 
kind, dated 1515, which the Frate painted to re- 
place the first, is now in the Pitti Gallery, where it 
is called the " Madonna del Baldacchino." This 
is one of those works in which the artist, in aiming 
at force, is betrayed into blackness : although the 
flesh is thin, the whole has an opaque, cold effect. 
Vasari speaks of the great relief for which this 
picture was remarkable, adding, that the artist in 
this instance imitated Leonardo's system, "espe- 
cially in the darks, in which he employed lamp- 
black and ivory-black ; in consequence of the use of 
these materials," the picture, he continues, " is now 
much darker than it was when it was painted, the 
shadows having constantly increased in obscurity." 
Here, as in other instances, the outline is some- 
times visible through the flesh in the light por- 
tions; the intense and opaque shadows — not im- 
proved by the effect of time, in the centuries that 
have intervened since Vasari's observation — allow 
of no such inspection : the outlines of the archi- 
tecture are, as usual, indented.* A third picture 
of this class, executed soon afterwards, is still in 
the convent church; it represents the Madonna 

* A copy of this picture, by Gabbiani, is in the convent of 
S. Marco. — Vasari, Life of Fra Bartolommeo, note 15. 


and Child, six saints, and two angels. This is also 
in a very blackened state, and the face of the 
Madonna is badly repainted; the Infent Christ is, 
however, well preserved, and is so fine as to justify 
the mistake of Pietro da Cortona, who, according to 
Bottari, believed the work to be Raphael's. The 
flesh appears to have been originally thin, for in 
some places — for example, in the Infant's right arm 
— the outline is visible through the colour: the 
indented outlines of the architecture are apparent 
in the steps, but are almost filled up with re- 

The Pietk formerly in S. Jacopo fi*a Fossi, now 
in the Pitti Gallery, was left unfinished*, and was 
completed, Vasari says, by Bugiardini. It is now 
in a very ruined state ; the boards of the panel on 
which it is painted are much warped, and the whole 
surface (the ground being partially detached) is 
more or less blistered. The background is entirely 
repainted, and the two figures of St. John and 
St. Paul, which, it seems, were added by Bugiar- 
dini, were thus obliterated. The only conclu- 
sions to be drawn from the present state of this 
once grand picture are that the flesh was thinly 
painted, and that the darks generally had the usual 

* In Life of Bugiardiai (vol. ii. p. 801), Vasari sajs it was 
merely outlined. The Rape of Dinah, copied bj Bugiardini, 
was also left unfinished. See note to Yasari's Life of Fra 
Bartolommeo, note 24. 



apparent substance in consequence of the profuse 
employment with them of a thick veliicle. 

The picture of the " Salvator Mundi," once in the 
Annunziata, and now in the Pitti Gallery, with 
rather more body than some of the works described, 
has the same general characteristics. The two 
figures of prophets. Job and Isaiah *, now in the 
tribune of the Uffizj, appear to have originally be- 
longed to this picture, and are fine specimens of 
the master. These also have somewhat more sub- 
stance in the lights, and are very powerfiil from the 
intense and rich darks which, in this instance, have 
not the effect of blackness. With these may be 
classed a half-figure of S. Vincenzo, once in St. 
Mark's and now in the Florentine Academy. This 
is the picture which Vasari observes was much 
cracked (in the shadows), in consequence, as he 
thought, of being painted without allowing time for 
the size and gesso ground and for the first co- 
lours to dry — as in the case, according to him, of 
Perugino's altar-pieces at S. Giusto alle Mura. The 
picture is placed too high to allow of any minute 
inspection. The cracks appear to have been filled 
up, and although by no means in a good state, the 
work is striking from the richness of its effect. In 
this case again the flesh is somewhat less thin than 
in the generality of the Frate's works. 

The celebrated St. Mark, painted for the con- 

* See note to Vasari's Life of Fra Bartolommeo. 


vent, and now in the Pitti Galleiy, has also 
suflfered from cleanings and restorations. It is a 
specimen of the transparent, forcible, and rich 
manner of the painter ; the lake drapery consists 
of little more than a glazing on what appears to 
have been a yellowish ground, which is seen 
through the lights. The extremely warm, lighter 
shades in the flesh are well calculated for the 
almost colossal size of the figure, and produce 
their just effect at a due distance. The darks in 
the eyes have unfortunately become, or have been 
made, too intense, so as to give them the effect of 
spots ; the green tunic has lost its tone, and is now 
become almost blue. 

A small Holy Family in the same gallery has 
the same brilliant and transparent character; the 
colours of the draperies — especially of a green — are 
here, as usual, more prominent than the flesh, which, 
however, is not deficient in body. With these 
specimens, considered with reference to their tech- 
nical characteristics, may be classed a Holy Family 
in the possession of Earl Cowper at Panshanger. 
The flesh is thin, and is exceeded in apparent 
substance by the other colours; the outlines on 
the light ground are seen through the wrist of the 
Child, in the extremities of both children, and 
round the eyes of the Madonna. A slight appear- 
ance of hatching in the fainter shades is probably 
the first drawing seen through the colour — as in 
the leg of the St. John. The darks throughout 


are prominent; the thick vehicle, which was pro- 
fusely used in the shadows of the blue drapery, 
is now cracked and corroded, presenting a dull 
appearance where the utmost lucid force was in- 
tended. Notwithstanding this and other imper- 
fections, the picture has a powerful glowing effect 
— intensely forcible without blackness — and is only 
somewhat too fresh and clean in the lighter 

In the former part of this work it was stated 
that a thinner and less durable vehicle was used 
by the early oil painters with the opaque than 
with the transparent colours. The proof of this 
may be found in the fiwjt, that the cleanings to 
which pictures like those of the Frate have been 
subjected have sometimes stirred the lights, but 
have not affected the darks. The latter have been 
more or less injured by time, but, at all events, 
their relative prominence is a proof that they have 
not been rubbed away : on the other hand, the 
occasional crudeness of the flesh tints, and perhaps 
the undue display of the outlines underneath them, 
may be partly attributed to the effect of cleanings. 

Three of the Frate's works are in churches in 
Lucca. Of two that are in S. Romano, the smaller, 
on cloth, has the date 1509; the larger, also on 
cloth, is dated 1515. The third, in S. Martino, 
of moderate size, on wood, is also dated 1509. The 
large picture — the " Madonna della Misericordia " 
— has been much restored, and now epnears 


scarcely worthy of its great reputation. Both the 
others are superior to it; but that in S, Martino 
(the cathedral) — representing the Madonna with 
St, Stephen and St. John and an exquisite angel 
seated on the steps of the throne playing a lute — 
is to be classed among the finest examples of the 
master. The smaller picture in S. Romano, repre- 
senting the Magdalen and St. Catherine of Siena 
(or, according to some, the two St. Catherines), with 
a glory of angels above, has also great beauty and 
harmony. In all these pictures, with an exception 
presently to be noticed, the flesh is thin relatively 
to the other colours ; the outline is distinguish- 
able through the lighter shades and half-tints, 
and through the middle tints of the lake drapery. 
All the darks are more prominent than the flesh. 
With regard to the colours, the greatest apparent 
thickness is observable in the greens, somewhat 
less in the blues, and least in the reds. Wherever 
the vehicle has been thickly used, cracks or a cor- 
roded surface are more or less observable. 

It would appear that Raphael furnished the 
design for the upper part of this picture, as a 
drawing for it by him exists in the gallery of the 
Uffizj at Florence. Rumohr even supposes that 
the angels in the picture are also partly by the 
great artist's hand : his reasons are that the 
shadows of the flesh tints are painted with con- 
siderable body — a system, as he justly remarks, 
corresponding with Raphael's method, but quite 


opposed to that of the Frate.* The date, 1509, 
does not render this co-operation improbable, as 
the upper part may have been finished before 
Raphael's departure from Rome in the preceding 

A desire to see the works of Michael Angelo 
and Raphael — the motive assigned by Vasari for 
Fra Bartolommeo's journey to Rome — would be 
but an imperfect guide to the date of his visit, had 
not the biographer also informed us that he was 
entertained there by Mariano Fetti, called the 
Frate " del Piombo," from his holding that office, 
to which, in the time of Clement VII., Sebastiano 
Luciano succeeded. Mariano's predecessor in the 
office was Bramante the architect, who died in 
1514 ; it was therefore, in aU probability, after 
that date that Fra Bartolommeo visited Rome.f 
There he began two figures of St. Peter and 
St. Paul for Fra Mariano. His stay, Vasari tells 

* Rumohr, Italianische Forscbungen, vol. iii. pp. 71, 72, and 

f The works of Sebastiano Luciano whicb are most known, 
including the Raising of Lazarus, in the National Gallery, 
were painted some years before he obtained the office *' del 
Piombo,'*and before he assumed with it the habit and designation 
of " Frate," The same title may therefore, not impossibly, have 
been applied to Marian.o Fetti, without reference to the precise 
year when he was appointed to the office. Still, the date 1514 
may, on many accounts, be considered as that of Bartolommeo's 
visit. The then recent promotion of Mariano may have been 
the immediate cause, and his employing Bartolommeo indicates 
that he was possessed of some authority. 

IN ROME, 185 

US, was short; he appears to have been oppressed 
with the excellence of the works he saw, and 
probably finding the place unsuited to his habits 
and his health, he departed without even finishing 
the work on which he was employed, and praying 
Raphael to complete it. This the great painter 
found time to do, and the figure of St. Peter is 
chiefly by his hand. These works, which are on 
wood and well preserved, exhibit therefore the best 
possible means of compai'ing the methods of the 
two painters. In renewing his communication with 
Raphael, and in observing the changes which that 
master's style as an oil painter had undergone since 
they had studied together in Florence, Fra Barto- 
lommeo could not fail to remark a greater solidity 
of execution as compared with works painted by 
the younger artist at a former period, and partly 
perhaps under his own guidance. But if he acknow- 
ledged the advantages of the subsequent method, 
recommended, as it now was, by so celebrated a 
painter, there is but slender evidence to show that 
his own practice was influenced by the example. 
Of the two Apostles above mentioned, the head and 
hands of the St. Peter are evidently by Raphael ; 
and those portions are much more solid than the 
flesh tints in the St. Paul. The surface in the latter 
exhibits no marked change from the well-known 
manner of the Frate ; the left hand, for example, 
is embedded in the suiTounding drapery : it is also 
to be observed that the colour is more glowing 


and transparent than in the companion picture. 
Raphael, who must have found it difficult, in the 
midst of his associations, to fulfil his promise to his 
friend, evidently executed his task in haste; but, 
far from being disadvantageous, this has afforded 
a striking proof of the mastery of the great painter 
in the management of oil colours. The picture is 
remarkably well preserved, and, though the flesh is 
painted with considerable body, free from cracks. 
The traces of the full brush are everywhere obser- 
vable ; the colour is sometimes left in solid touches, 
and the execution is as bold as that of the later 
Venetians. Had Raphael oftener executed oil 
paintings entirely with his own hand in his later 
time we should, no doubt, have seen a more 
evident result of that dexterity which his practice 
in fresco, and knowledge of form, must have given 
him. In adhering to his own method, the great 
artist has emulated in this case the warmth of his 
friend's colour, but as his work is solid, with 
scarcely any glazing, the head of St. Peter, noble 
as it is, is rather red than glowing.* The St. Paul 
by the Frate is perhaps the finer of the two in 
expression, as well as in transparent warmth ; it is 
only inferior in substance and execution. The 
union of solidity with that richness which glazing 
can best give was reserved for the Venetians. 
An unfinished Madonna and Child by Fra Bar- 

* See anecdote in Cortegiano, book ii. p. 213. 


tolommeo, more solidly painted in the flesh than 
the generality of his works, was exhibited at the 
British Institution in 1841 under the name of 
Raphael : if that picture was begun in Rome — 
which the circumstance of its being half finished 
renders not improbable — it, might be supposed that 
its greater substance was a consequence of the 
painter's then new impressions. But, whatever 
may have been the Frate's experiments in Rome, 
it is certain that his latest finished oil picture, 
painted after his return to Florence, and in the 
year before his death (died October 1517), exhibits 
all the extreme peculiarities of his technical style. 
The picture here alluded to is the Presentation, in 
the Belvedere Gallery at Vienna, formerly the altar- 
piece of a chapel in St. Mark's at Florence.* The 
colouring is, as usual, vivid and clear, the conse- 
quence of the transparent system of the painting — 
a system carried so far in this instance that the 
outlines are visible through the flesh tints. The 
picture bears the inscription, "Orate pro pictore 
olim sacelli hujus novitio 1516."t A small picture 
of the Annunciation, now in the Louvre, in which 
the Madonna is accompanied by various saints, has 
the date 1515. In this instance again the flesh is 

* The tradition repeated at YieoDa that Rubens formed his 
style from this particular work, can have little weight when 
it is recollected that the picture migrated from Florence to 
Vienna so late as 1 782. See Wilkie's remarks on its ruined state. 

t The repetition in the Uffizj is inferior. 


thin, and without cracks, while the darks and the 
usual colours are prominent ; the inscription is, 
"F. Bart° floren. or*f pre ("ordinis predicato- 
rum") 1515." 

A large picture by the Frate representing the 
patron saints of Florence was left unfinished at 
his death, and is now in the gallery of the Uffizj. 
This work, Vasari tells us, was a commission from 
the Gonfaloniere Soderini, and was intended for 
the same council-chamber where Michael Angelo 
and Leonardo da Vinci had been employed; but 
by a singular fatality neither of the three masters 
completed the work allotted to him. An engraving 
of Fra Bartolommeo's composition may be seen in 
the small edition of the Florence Galler}'. The 
white ground of the picture appears to have been 
covered with a semi-opaque yellowish tint : this 
tells for the lights; the shadows are laid in with 
brown, which, in the darkest touches, appears 
almost black. The effect of the whole is like an 
immense bistre drawing on wood. The forms are 
drawn with a clean, very dark outline, which 
appears thin and wiry for so large a scale : the 
outlines of the architecture and steps, and even of 
some books, are ruled and indented. Vasari inti- 
mates that Fra Bartolommeo was employed on this 
composition immediately before his decease, but 
the banishment of Soderini in 1512 was no doubt 
the cause of the suspension of the undertaking. The 
Gonfaloniere quitted Florence in that year, never 


to return, and unless we suppose that Ottaviano 
de' Medici, ultimately the possessor of the work, 
commissioned the Frate to proceed with it (which 
does not appear), it must have been left incomplete 
some years before the painter's death.* 

This picture, together with Vasari's description 
of the Frate's method, and the evidence of his more 
finished works already described, gives the fullest 
insight into his general process. The yellowish 
ground seems to have been adopted by Fra Barto- 
lorameo in other instances — for example, in the 
gigantic St. Mark now in the Pitti Gallery.. Occa- 
sionally, as is evident from an uncovered portion 
of the small Holy Family before described, which is 
now in England, the ground was white. The large 
work above referred to, however, shows that at the 
best period of his practice the Frate preferred the 
yellowish tinted ground, due allowance being made 
for the yellowing and darkening of the varnish with 
which the surface of the unfinished picture in ques- 
tion is now covered . The habit was probably derived 
from Leonardo : that master, as we have seen, appa- 
rently with a view to correct the yellowing of the oil, 
painted his flesh of a purple hue, sometimes even 
exaggerating this tint. Such being his prac- 
tice, he would consistently select a ground tint 
(yellowish) which was again the opposite of the 
purple preparation, in order to give it value. On 

* Yftsari, Life of Fra Bartolommeo, notes 43 and 44* 


the same principle the tempera painters prepared 
their carnations with a green tint ; with the same 
view Titian prepared his blue skies with a light 
brown inclining to orange ; while Rubens and 
Vandyck often painted their flesh tints on a grey 
ground. The Adoration of the Magi, by Leonardo, 
exhibits the yellowish ground, and is only not 
carried far enough to exemplify the purple prepa- 

It is not easy to determine to what extent the 
extreme thinness in the flesh tints which some of 
the pictures of the Frate now exhibit may be the 
efiect of time and cleanings ; but as the thinness, 
in greater or less degree, was undoubtedly one of 
the original characteristics of his works, it is not 
to be supposed that he would ever make the ground 
so dark as to mar the brilliancy and warmth of 
the superadded carnations. The internal light 
which they actually display, and the brightness 
which they acquire from their transparency, are 
conclusive on this point. The. cold eflfect of a thin 
light over relative darkness is apparent wherever 
the outlines are seen underneath the semi-opaque 
light colour, a bluish tint being necessarily the 
result. The general principle, independent of any 
authority, is not to be mistaken. As Descamps 
(quoting Rubens) observes, the ground tint is of 
no importance if it be entirely and thickly covered : 
when thinly covered, it will, if darker than the 
superadded colour, impart a coldness to it; if 


lighter, it will enhance the warmth. The bright 
and glowing carnations of Fra Bartolommeo, thinly 
painted as they are, or have been, suppose, there- 
fore, a ground which, when yellowish, was still of 
a very light tint. A partial coldness may be some- 
times intentionally produced, on the principle just 
adverted to, for the sake of the pearliness of the 
tone, as colours of all kinds are never so clear, 
never so unlike pigment, as when they are seen 
through each other without an atomic mixture: 
only it is necessary to bear in mind that white 
lead has a tendency to become transparent by 
age, especially when not fortified by a firm vehicle, 
and that therefore cool tints which are produced 
by thin lights over a darker preparation will become 
colder in time, even though that tendency be some- 
what counteracted by the gradual mellowing both 
of colours and varnishes. 

With the exception of the occasional use of this 
light yellow tint for the ground, the method of Fra 
Bartolommeo was nearly in accordance with that 
of the Flemish masters. The defined outline, the 
insertion of the shadows upon it — the ground being 
left for the lights — the comparatively thin flesh 
tints (thinner than the Flemish*), the darks lucid 
and prominent with a thick vehicle, all correspond 
with the principles and practice of the first oil 
painters. Vasari observes that the Frate was in 

* This system was imitated by the later Flemish painters. 


the habit of preparing his pictures as if they were 
cartoons — that is, merely vrith reference to the 
composition, forms, and light and dark — using 
(printer's) ink or asphaltum for the outlines and 
shadows, "J'his general system, he remarks, is 
evident from many unfinished works left by the 
artist. The use of lampblack is to be recognised, 
not only in the outlines of some of his pictures 
(as, for example, in the St. Bernard), but in the 
shadows of some of his finished works, where it 
has not unfrequently done mischief: the use of as- 
phaltum was, it seems, no less common. The chief 
objection of the modems to this pigment — its ten- 
dency to crack — ^was counteracted, at least for a con- 
siderable time, by using it with the oil varnishes. It 
is also consistent with the habits of the early painters 
to suppose that it was first thoroughly washed, 
after being well ground, so as to free it from greasy 
particles, and thus to render it more drying. Still, 
as its tendency to crack and blacken was not quite 
overcome, the corroded appearance of the darks in 
many pictures of the sixteenth century of various 
schools, is no doubt partly to be attributed to its 
use. The S. Vincenzo of Fra Bartolommeo was, 
according to Vasari, cracked in all directions in his 
time, and, unless the picture had been exposed to 
the sun's rays in its original situation, this effect 
may have been accelerated by the use of the colour 
in question. 

The Frate's habit of studying the chiaroscuro of 


his compositions, independently of the effect of 
colours, led him occasionally to complete works 
in this style. A picture of St. George and the 
Dragon, and a head of Christ, are enumerated 
among his productions in chiaroscuro, and to this 
practice the force and delicacy of his gradations are 
partly to be attributed. Fra Bartolommeo, observes 
Vasari, was in the habit of working from nature, 
and in order to copy draperies, armour, and articles 
of dress, he made use of a wooden lay figure the 
size of life, contrived, like those now in use, to 
bend at the joints. From the manner in which 
the biographer speaks of this circumstance, and 
from his having, as he informs us, possessed him- 
self of the identical wormeaten mannequin as a 
memorial of the painter, it would appear that 
the Frate was the inventor of this useful auxiliary. 
Later writers, and among them Baldinucci, have 
accordingly assumed this to be the case. It seems 
that the artist was also accustomed to use clay 
models, probably in order to study the effects of 
light and shade in groups. 

We now proceed to consider Mariotto Alberti- 
nelli, the early friend and companion of Fra Barto- 
lommeo, whose studies were directed to the same 
outward qualities in painting, though they were 
not always informed by so pure a feeling. The 
circumstances which induced the Frate to become 

VOL. II. o 


a monk had the effect of driving Mariotto into the 
world and into opposite habits, while his attach- 
ment to his art chiefly showed itself in the pursuit 
of technical methods to attain perfection in relief — 
a tast€ which had been introduced, together with 
better things, by Leonardo da Vinci. 

It will not be necessary to follow the practice of 
this painter so closely as that of Fra Bartolommeo, 
since the technical qualities are nearly the same. 
The masterwork of Mariotto — the Visitation, in the 
gallery of the UflBizj — has the outward peculiarities 
that have been noticed in the works of the Frate. 
The flesh is thinly painted in comparison with the 
darks, as is evident from the appearance of the 
head of Elizabeth, surrounded by the thicker blue 
drapery of the Virgin. All the darks are raised and 
have suffered much, but the cracks and inequalities 
have been here and there filled up by the restorer. 
The altar-piece formerly at S. Trinitk at Florence, 
and now in the Louvre, representing the Madonna 
and Child with St. Jerome and St. Zenobius, has 
the same peculiarities : the flesh is embedded and 
the darks are substantial with vehicle ; it has the 
date 1506. In this picture, as in the works of the 
Frate and others of the time, the red (lake) drapery 
has less body than the blue and green, except in 
the shadows — an indication, perhaps, that a durable 
colour was used, which did not require to be so 
effectually "locked up" as the " azurro della Magna," 
" giallo santo," and other tints. The Assumption, 
formerly in the Casa Acciauoli at Florence, is now 


in the Berlin Gallery. Lanzi* attributes the lower 
part of this work (consisting of various saints) to 
Mariotto, and the upper part to the Frate; Dr. 
Waagen reverses the masters, and his judgment is 
probably correct-f If the upper part is by Mariotto, 
the thinness of the flesh exceeds even his ordinary 
want of substance; the darks, on the contrary, are 
thick with vehicle. The same general characteristics 
are observable in the lower portion, and it is only 
by a comparison of the two works in other qualities 
that the respective masters are to be recognised. 

Yasari is sufficiently clear in his explanation of 
Mariotto's efforts to secure relief, although the 
present appearance of the painter's works, from the 
effects of time, does not always correspond with the 
biographer's description of their merits. This is 
the case with the picture of the Annunciation, 
painted for the Compagnia di S. Zanobi, and now 
in the Florentine Academy. It is a forcible and 
expressive work, and has the usual characteristics 
of the master, but it can hardly be regarded as an 
illustration of the principles and objects which, if 
Vasari be correct, the artist had in view. Mariotto, 
he informs us, worked on this picture in the place 
which it was to occupy, and had even contrived 
additional windows so as to regulate the light for 
the upper portions. "He was of opinion,'^ con- 

* Storia pittorica d' Italia. Epoca seconda, p. 129. 
t See Catalogue of Berlin Gallerj. 
o 2 


tinues the biographer, " that such pictures were 
only to be valued which combine force and relief 
with tenderness (in the shadows}. He was aware 
that relief could only be attained by shadow, while 
at the same time, if the obscurity be too great, in- 
distinctness is the necessary consequence. On the 
other hand, if the tenderness be indiscriminate, 
relief is sacrificed. His object, therefore, was to 
unite with delicacy of shade a certain system of 
effect, which, he considered, had not before been 
attempted. An opportunity seemed to present 
itself in this work, on which he bestowed infinite 
study. This is apparent in the figure of the 
Almighty and in some infant angels, which arc 
strongly relieved against a dark background, con- 
sisting of the perspective of a waggon roof, the 
arches of which, duly diminishing, recede so as to 
produce illusion. There are also some angels in 
the air, scattering flowers. This work was painted 
and repainted by Mariotto before he could satisfy 
himself; he changed the effect repeatedly, now 
making it lighter, now daiker, sometimes increas- 
ing, and again reducing the vivacity of the tints. 
He was fastidious to the last, feeling that his 
hand could not realise his intention. He would 
willingly have found a white more brilliant than 
white lead, and therefore tried to purify the colour, 
in order to add still brighter lights to the illumined 
portions." Compelled to content himself in the 
end, his work was highly extolled by the artists of 


the day, and when a difference arose between him 
and his employers respecting the remuneration, 
the case was referred to Pietro Perugino, then aged, 
Ridolfo Ghirlandajo, and Francesco Granacci, who 
pronounced a satisfactory decision. 

The opinion of Mariotto that the desired union 
of force and delicacy had not been sufficiently 
attained by preceding painters, may have been 
directed, and not unjustly, against the darker works 
of Leonardo da Vinci. The judicious system which 
he proposed, whether really his, or supposed to be 
so by Vasari, cannot, however, be said to have been 
fully exemplified till the best Venetian painters 
solved the difficulty. The principle is admirably 
explained by Zanetti, not only in describing Titian's 
colouring, but in other parts of his work. The 
example which best illustrates the (assumed) aim 
of Mariotto is perhaps Pordenone. Zanetti observes 
that one of that great painter's peculiarities was his 
love of foreshortening, the results of which, like 
those of perspective generally, tend to get rid of the 
flat surface ; another peculiarity was to employ 
half-shadows chiefly in the flesh, with a very sparing 
proportion of extreme darks, reserving greater force 
in large masses for the background of the figures ; 
or, when the (draped) figures admitted of dark 
masses, relieving them by an expanse of light in 
the background. The system of breadth of light 
relieved on breadth of shade was aimed at by 
Mariotto in the upper part of the Annunciation; 


the opposite principle is more successfully carried 
out in the Visitation. The addition of the eflTects 
of perspective in the background of the Annuncia- 
tion is analogous to that love of foreshortening 
which all these painters have exhibited whose at- 
tention has been especially directed to the study of 

To some it may appear that the above compari- 
son between the efforts of a Florentine and the best 
Venetian practice is inadmissible ; and assuredly it 
would have occurred to none to hint at such a com- 
parison, but for Vasari's remarks. But the his- 
tory of art, at all times, is full of examples of a 
clearly understood principle failing in its effect 
fix)m not being carried far enough, and from not 
being assisted by such other executive means as 
can convey the intended impression distinctly and 
powerfully to the eye. It is for this reason that 
the best theories of art, and the best descriptions of 
methods, can never convey their foil meaning so 
as to be available with certainty in practice. The 
saiiie words may be applicable to very different 
degrees of the effect proposed — to degrees so im- 
perfect and so little expressive of the intention, ex- 
cept to the imagination of the artist, that the result 
may, to his astonishment, be criticised for a want 
of the very qualities to which his attention may 
seem to himself to have been especially directed. 
This shows the great use (amidst some unavoidable 
evils) of modern exhibitions: they may be said 


to supply the place of that competition in churches 
and public buildings from which the painters of 
Italy reaped so much advantage. They had the 
additional advantage of first displaying their works 
to the public in the situations they were ultimately 
to occupy, and of studying their effect under such 
circumstances accordingly. While a work of art is 
seen alone, aided perhaps by the descriptions of 
the artist and his eulogists, every merit, in some 
unassignable degree, may be ascribed to it. It is 
the same with schools and periods while they are 
studied apart. It is quite conceivable that the 
Annunciation of Mariotto and a masterwork by 
Titian, considered solely with regard to the relief 
attained on the above principles, and avoiding allu- 
sions to the peculiarities of the masters, might be 
described in the same terms; so powerless is lan- 
guage to represent the relations of light and colour 
— to represent proportion. 

Of the other early Florentine oil painters — 
Ridolfo Ghirlandajo, Granacci, Bugiardini, and 
their contemporaries or immediate followers — none 
were so uniformly thin in the flesh tints as the 
Frate and Mariotto, although in their works gene- 
rally the darks are more prominent than the lights. 
In Ridolfo's funeral of St. Zenobius, in the Uffizj, 
the flesh has a moderate substance, while the darks, 
and especially the blues, are thick with vehicle. 
In the other picture, in which the saint raises a 


dead boy to life, the same peculiarities are observ- 
able: the thickness of the greens is especially 
visible. Granacci's technical manner may be 
traced in the two pictures of angels in the Flo- 
rentine Academy, though these are now in a ruined 
condition, and badly restored: the darks are 
cracked and corroded throughout, but it is evident 
that they had the usual prominence as compared 
with the flesh. His picture in the Uffizj of the 
Madonna dropping her girdle to St. Thomas is also 
in a very injured state, and is placed too high to 
admit of accurate inspection; the details that are 
visible confirm, however, the above general state- 
ment. A Madonna attributed to him in the Pitti 
Gallery agrees in the same qualities ; the flesh has 
a good body, but is, still, less raised than the darks. 
A Madonna by Bugiardini resembles it in the com- 
parative solidity of the flesh. Several of these 
painters and their companions studied for a time 
either with the Frate or with Mariotto Albertinelli, 
yet the extreme thinness in the flesh tints which 
those painters' works exhibit does not often occur in 
the same degree. 

Andrea del Sarto (1478-1530) first appears as 
an oil painter in company with Franciabigio, a 
scholar of Mariotto. The two artists worked for a 
time together, both gradually adopting a some- 
what more solid texture in the flesh than the works 
of Albertinelli exhibited. In less finished paintings 


by Andrea the transparent system prevails ; fbr 
example, in some small but well-designed pictures 
from the history of Joseph, originally painted on 
some furniture for Pier Francesco Borgherini, two 
of which are in the Pitti Gallery, and three, appa- 
rently from the same series, at Panshanger.* In 
all these the system of the early Florentine oil 
painters of the Peruginesque school (as distin- 
guished from that of Leonardo, Lorenzo di Credi, 
and Raphael in his later works) is clearly exem- 
plified : the flesh is thin, the darks all prominent, 
the blues and greens most protected with vehicle, 
the lakes less so, except in shadows. Part of the 

• The history of these pictures is as follows : — Four 
painters, Andrea del Sarto, Ubertini, called II Bachiacca, 
Francesco Granacci, and Pontormo, were employed to orna- 
ment the wedding-chamber of a young couple (Pier Francesco 
Borgherini and Margherita Acciauoli) with pictures adapted 
to the cassoni and other furniture. The history of Joseph 
was chosen as the subject At the siege of Florence (1529), 
when the citizens hastened to propitiate Francis I., Pier Fran- 
cesco retired to Lucca, leaving his wife in the house. During 
his absence the Gonfaloniere and Council decided that the 
pictures of the Borgherini wedding-chamber would be an 
acceptable present to the King of France. A certain Giovan 
Battista della Palla, who had already prepared other peace- 
offerings for the enemy, was foremost in desiring to add these 
pictures to the number, and undertook to obtain them from 
the lady. His reception by Margherita, who responded to his 
errand by the ** maggior yillania che mai fusse detta ad altro 
uomo,** will be found in Vasari's Life of PontormOy vol. ii. 
p. 821. The fate of the pictures by II Bachiacca and Granacci 
is not known. For other allusions to these works see Yasari, 
vol. i. pp. 572, 670-672. 


series was painted by Granacci and others ; two by 
Pontormo are in the gallery of the Uffizj, Such 
works were probably executed " alia prima," but 
Andrea soon adopted the system of preparing his 
pictures with a dead colour : an unfinished painting 
by him in the Guadagni Palace at Florence exhibits 
his process ; the subject is the Adoration of the 
Magi; the black outline, drawn apparently with a 
reed pen on a light (perhaps originally white) 
ground, is seen everywhere, but the features and 
minuter forms are not defined, and sometimes are 
very roughly indicated. The sky and background 
only are finished ; the flesh, draperies, and adjuncts 
are all true in tone, although laid in with so little 
colour. This exemplifies the process, consisting of 
several operations, which Vasari (in speaking of 
some damaged pictures by Perugino) assumes to 
have been common to all oil painters, but which 
perhaps was first reduced to a system by Andrea, 
with whom Vasari himself for a time studied. The 
method of covering a work repeatedly with more or 
less of opaque colour would soon suggest the possi- 
bility of corrections in the forms and composition. 
In a Holy Family by Andrea, now in the Louvre, 
a hand of St. Elizabeth has been, introduced across 
the arm of the youthful St. John after that figure 
was completed, and, not having been painted with 
sufficient body, now shows the shadow underneath 
it, thus reducing the superadded flesh tint in that 
part to a grey. Andrea's method, though more 


solid than that of the Peruginesque school gene- 
rally, was not suiBciently so to permit his painting 
light over dark without ultimate injury to the 
brilliancy of his colour. That he could, however, 
paint solidly when he pleased, the copy of Raphael's 
Leo X. (which deceived Giulio Romano) may be 
considered a sufficient proof. 

This semi-solid system — a middle process be- 
tween that exhibited in the substantial works of 
Leonardo (such as the Mona Lisa) and of the 
followers of Raphael, on the one hand, and the 
transparent method of the Frate and those who 
resembled him on the other — continued to charac- 
terise the succeeding Florentine painters, till the 
period of what is called the reformation of art in 
Tuscany, by Cigoli, Jacopo da Empoli, Cristofano 
AUori, and their contemporaries, who appear to have 
aimed, to a certain extent, at the solidity of Cor- 
reggio.* Less change is, however, apparent in the 
treatment of the darks, which, in the works of the 
later painters, are oft«n remarkable for a profusion 
of vehicle ; but rather, it would appear, with a view 
to preserve certain colours than, as at first, to give 
depth to the intenser shadows. 

On the whole, it appears that Perugino, Fra 
Bartolommeo, and Mariotto Albertinelli carried the 
transparent system in the lights farther than the 
early Flemish oil painters, while they retained, and 

* See Lanzi, Stona pittorica d' Italia, pp. 189>90. 


sometimes exaggerated the use of rich and lucid 
vehicles in the darks. If this latter practice on the 
part of the Italians may be accounted for by the 
increased dimensions of their works, as compared 
with those of the Northern districts, it must still 
be obvious that the light portions in their pictures 
might, on the same principle, have been more sub- 
stantial. It may be a question, as before remarked, 
whether the greater apparent solidity of the flesh 
tints and illumined parts in the works of the Van 
Eycks, and some of their scholars, may not have 
been the consequence of using a firmer vehicle, 
which has prevented the white lead from becoming 
transparent : from whatever cause, those painters 
are certainly more solid than the Italians above 
named. It is also worthy of notice that the produc- 
tions of some later Flemish painters (for example, 
Lucas Van Leyden and his contemporaries) have 
less body than those of their predecessors, and this 
is not improbably to be attributed, directly or indi- 
rectly,, to a Florentine influence. At a still later 
period the rich and transparent shadows of Rubens 
were, as some have conjectured, derived from the 
manner of Fra Bartolommeo.* The followers of 
Raphael carried with them throughout Italy, some- 
times to the Netherlands, the more solid system, 
and the example of Leonardo was the means of 

* It has been seen that the author repudiates the tradition 
regarding a particular work by Fra Bartolommeo, which Rubens 
was supposed to have seen at Vienna. See p. 187, note. — Ed, 


establishing it in Lombardy. The early Sienese 
oil painters fluctuated for a time between the Peru- 
ginesque and the opposite method, but, on the 
whole, inclined to the latter. 

Having noticed the points on which the practice 
of Fra Bartolommeo and his followers differed from 
that of Leonardo da Vinci, it remains to speak of 
those qualities which were common to the two 
masters. Among the technical methods and pecu-- 
liarities which the Frate adopted fix)m Leonardo, 
as distinguished from the Flemish method, we first 
find that he laid in the shadows with the brush on 
the ground instead of hatching them: the use of 
a yellowish ground, perhaps suggested by the oc- 
casional practice of Leonardo, has been already 
noticed. In more important particulars the im- 
provement attempted, rather than attained, by the 
Frate was a transparent system opposed to the 
solid purplish lights, and often inky shadows, of 
Leonardo in his carnations. The depth and bril- 
liancy which Fra Bartolommeo sometimes atta.ined 
in this way (exemplified by the picture at Pans- 
hanger) approach, however, a glassy unsubstantial 
appearance, when such specimens are contrasted 
with more solidly painted works. The Annuncia- 
tion of Mariotto Albertinelli, before mentioned, is, 
with all its force, a remarkable example of the 
defect here alluded to. The succeeding painters 
of Tuscany corrected this thinness in the lights im- 
perfectly, without retaining the extreme force and 


richness in the shades which characterise the Frate. 
Another quality which was adopted from Leonardo, 
and of which the Florentines were especially en- 
amoured, was the * sfumato ' system — the imper- 
ceptible softening of the transitions in half-tints 
and shadows. The want of substance which long 
characterised the school is ill adapted for this soft- 
ness in the passages from light to shade. The 
* sfumato ' applied to a thin preparation seems to 
add to the glassiness and poverty of the surface, 
and gives a look both of labour and incompleteness. 
It is more agreeable in small works, where a mode- 
rate thinness may assist the delicacy of the execu- 
tion. A picture by Ubertini, called il Bachiacca, 
once in the gallery at Dresden, and now in that 
of Berlin, is a good example of the Florentine 
^ sfumato' on a small scale.* 

On the whole, it must appear that the method of 
the Frate, though recommended by extreme force 
and transparency, as well as by a noble style, had 
an unfortunate influence on the Florentine school 
as regards one important quality — solidity. It 
was in fact a retrograde step as compared with the 
Van Eycks, and was the means of introducing an 

* This 18 one of two pictures painted originally for Gio- 
vanni Maria Benintendi of Florence, and afterwards sold to 
the Elector of Saxonj. See last Florentine edition of Vasari, 
(1832-38), Vita di Franciabigio, voL i. p. 627, notes 15 and 
16 ; Vita di Bastiano di S. Gallo, yol. ii. pp. 868-9 ; see also 
vol. i. p. 427, note 62. 


executive imperfection, which was never quite re- 
trieved by the Tuscan painters. It suited a school 
of designers. The mode in which such a school 
would endeavour to compass the excellences of 
oil painting without sacrificing form would natu- 
rally be by a transparent tinting, in the application 
of which the outline was covered with reluctance, 
and in such a mode as always to be recovered. 
The terms employed to describe the operations of 
such a school have thus sometimes only a relative 
application as compared with their ordinary mean- 
ing. When, for example, Yasari says that Mariotto 
Albertinelli frequently altered the colouring and 
effect of his picture of the Annunciation before 
described, repainting it more than once, we are 
not to suppose that the result was a thickly painted 
picture — a reasonable conclusion in any other case 
— for the work (which exists to attest that it is 
not so) proves that these changes were made with- 
out destroying the characteristic thinness of the 
artist's execution. Such changes suppose that 
both lights and shadows were washed out with an 
essential oil, and again inserted on the ground, 
not that the work was loaded again and again, as in 
modem cases of pentimenti.* 

* Sir Joshua Reynolds is reported to have said of his pic- 
ture of the Infant Hercules, now at St. Petersburg, " There 
are several pictures under it, some better, some worse." The 
pictures of the colourists frequently tell the same tale, as their 
pentimenti come to light. 


Hence the lesson which the more established 
Florentine practice teaches is, that while there may 
be no necessity for deviating from the original 
design — supposed to be decided in sketches and in 
the preparation — the powers of oil painting are but 
half displayed unless the preparation be either 
immediately or gradually wrought up to solidity. 
The gradual mode of attaining substance, on Leo- 
nardo's most finished system, considered irrespec- 
tively of his colouring, is undoubtedly the safest, as 
it admits of correcting the forms ; but it is by no 
means assumed that even this practice can ever 
supersede the necessity of enriching operations at 
last. There have been no colourists, painting the 
size of nature, without solidity in the lights. 




Hitherto the progress and vicissitudes of oil 
painting in the hands of individual masters have 
been partly traceable to distinct influences, and 
have not failed of due illustration by a reference to 
existing works in their chronological order; but 
we have now to examine the technical style of a 
painter of the highest rank — Antonio AUegri da 
Correggio — ^whose early histoiy and education are 
wrapt in obscurity, and whose authentic produc- 
tions cannot, in the majority of cases, be referred 
with certainty to dates. An easy explanation of 
the originality and excellence of this painter might 
be found in his transcendent genius ; yet, could we 
follow his steps from the commencement of his 
career, we should probably find in his case, as in 
Raphael's, that he at first adopted much fix)m 
others, and that his style received a bias from 
circumstances of time and place as yet imperfectly 
known to us. 


210 LIFE OF 

The best life of Correggio is that by Pungileoni : • 
though needlessly diflFuse, and written in a con- 
fused and desultory style, the more important state- 
ments it contains are supported by documentary 
evidence, and the author shows no disposition to 
adopt without examination the vague stories of 
former biographers. Many of these stories, though 
not supported by sufficient authority, need not be 
rejected merely on account of their improbabihty ; 
but it may be observed, once for all, that Vasari's 
remarks on the artist's poverty, and the absurd 
account of his death in consequence of carrying a 
load of copper money from Parma to Correggio, 
have not the remotest foundation beyond the mere 
assertion of that writer, while they are contradicted 
by the clearest facts. The great painter, though 
not wealthy, was in easy circumstances, and was 
sufficiently well paid, as appears by existuig con- 
tracts and receipts, for the works he undertook. The 
works themselves — among others, the cupolas of 
two churches — would not have been confided to an 
indigent professor; and, as Lanzif and others justly 
remark, the artist himself spared no time, study, or 
expense in the execution of the important com- 
missions he received, and grudged no outlay in 
the materials of his pictures. Documents further 
prove that purchases of land were the result of his 

* Memorie istoriche di Antonio Allcgri. 1818. 
t Storia pittorica d' Italia, vol. iv. pp. 55-57. 


increasing fortune, and that his family inherited 
from him a considerable property. 

Enough has been therefore ascertained to prove 
the worldly prosperity, the public estimation, and 
the liberal spirit of Correggio : what is wanted is a 
more accurate knowledge of his professional career, 
especially at its commencement. The zeal with 
which the history of art at any given period is 
investigated necessarily depends on the interest 
with which the productions of that period are 
regarded: none will regret that the activity of 
modem research has hitherto been directed to the 
early Italian and Flemish schools, since the facts 
arrived at form, in every view, a proper foundation 
for further enquiry. But it is to be feared, from 
the almost exclusive predilection for those schools 
on the part of writers the most competent to treat 
such subjects, that the history of the great painters 
of Venice and Parma is not likely to be undertaken 
with equal love. The aim of Correggio, especially, 
is so opposite, in many respects, to the spirit of 
the fifteenth century ; his peculiarities find so little 
favour at present with the admirers of that ten- 
dency and of its consummation in the best works 
of Raphael, that we cannot as yet look for an 
investigation of his life and progress in art at their 

A critic of the last century — Raphael Mengs — 
to whom we are indebted for a careful analysis, at 
least, of the great artist's external qualities, is not 

p 2 


unjustly looked upon by his own countrymen as 
the latest important representative of that effete 
imitation of the old masters and of the antique 
statues which the modem German school, at it« 
commencement, especially sought to avoid. While 
Mengs devoted his life to the study and illustration 
of his favourite painter's works, a representative of 
the new German tendency dates the moral decline 
of art from " the effeminate Correggio :" the epithet 
must, however, be understood to relate to the taste 
rather than the practice of a great painter whose 
colossal foreshortenings on a curved surface in 
fresco, might have excited the wonder of Michael 
Angelo himself. The judgment, of which the above 
is a specimen, is partly the consequence of the exclu- 
sive admiration with which even the peculiarities 
of the great artist were regarded in the last cen- 
tury; for it is to be remarked tbat while the writers 
of that period enlarge on the technical merits of 
Correggio, they scarcely allude to the total change 
which his altars-pieces exhibit, as compared, in their 
impression on the mind, with the similar works of 
earlier masters. Mengs, Reynolds, and others, in 
the midst of enlightened criticism on the qualities 
of the mere painter, and while extolling his playful 
grace, have little to say on the absence of all 
solemnity, all devotional feeling, from his church 
pictures, in which, except where the subject is 
essentially pathetic, a joyous and even humorous 
feeling may be said to prevail. 


The most extraordinary instance of the trivial 
and childish treatment of a sacred subject, as 
regards invention and composition, is perhaps the 
St. Sebastian at Dresden, in which the actions of 
some of the infant angels and of other figures 
border, and intentionally so, on the ridiculous. 
This playful feeling, though still utterly unfit for 
an altar-piece, is kept within more discreet limits 
in the St. Jerome at Parma and the St. George at 
Dresden ; but even in these the' misapplied conceits, 
graceful as they sometimes are, and safe fi*om 
caricature by the accompaniment of beauty, would 
be felt to be irreverent on a comparison of such 
works with corresponding subjects by Raphael, 
Lorenzo di Credi, and many an earlier painter. 

Correggio's power of seeing and rendering certain 
qualities in nature which constitute the essence of 
painting as an art, also interfered, to a certain 
extent, with the customary forms of representation. 
Painting, in its infancy, aimed only at intelligible 
appearances on a flat surface; and, in afterwards 
recognising the importance of grand lines and 
masses, still kept those lines and masses in a great 
measure parallel with the plane of the picture. 
For colossal works, intended to be seen at a distance, 
and under circumstances which do not admit of the 
discrimination of the delicate varieties of light and 
shade, this flatter treatment is probably the best, 
since it must, under such circumstances, be the most 
easily intelligible ; but when the distance at which 


the work is to be viewed admits of a full perception 
of the finer gradations of light, then the qualities 
in which Correggio excelled come legitimately into 
operation — ^legitimately at least in reference to such 
physical conditions; and it would be diflScult to 
suppose that a painter possessed of the requisite 
skill would, from a regard to certain questionable 
principles, exercise such self-denial as to suppress 
the resources of art which he felt to be at his com- 
mand. The qualities here alluded to are, however, 
many of them, opposed to the real and permanent 
attributes which the earlier painters aimed at : they 
consist in foreshortening, a term commonly re- 
stricted to figures ; in the alteration of forms 
generally by perspective; in depth, or the repre- 
sentation of space; and in gradations of light as 
well as of magnitude. All these directly tend to 
get rid of the flat surface, and are, consequently, 
characteristic excellences of the art of painting. 
Accordingly, in Correggio's system, figures are 
generally placed at some angle with the plane of 
the picture, and are seldom quite parallel with it; 
the consequence is that his masses of light are often 
composed of many objects. This has been called 
a broken assemblage of shapes, and, if reduced to 
outline, it would sometimes undoubtedly appear so, 
the objects being (to use an exaggerated expression 
for the sake of clearness) placed endwise towards 
the spectator; but when connected by a magic har- 
mony of light and shade, the result, &r fix)m being 


scattered, is " a plenitude of effect " seldom to be 
found in other painters, and more satisfactory than 
when that mass is cheaply attained by broad flat 
surfaces. But this picturesque style of composition 
is ill adapted to the solemn repose which devotional 
subjects require, especially as Correggio is seldom 
happy in the arrangement and forms of his drapery ; 
while, as regards the application of chiaroscuro (as 
he used it) to such subjects, it must again be evident 
that the charm thus imparted, and without which 
his composition would have appeared incomplete 
and unsatisfactory, was sometimes calculated to 
supersede the consideration of the subject as such, 
and to become itself the chief source of interest. 

The censure of the modern critics before referred 
to is more especially and justly directed against 
Correggio's selection and treatment of certain my- 
thological subjects, such as the fables of Leda, 
Danae, and lo. The effect of soft and harmonious 
transitions of light and shade — a characteristic ex- 
cellence of the master — is of itself allied to the 
voluptuous: the principle was oftener applied by 
Correggio to subjects of pathos and solemnity ; these, 
assisted by the soothing spell of his chiaroscuro and 
by forms of beauty, excite a calm and pleasing im- 
pression, by no means foreign to the end proposed; 
but the application was, unfortunately, not less 
successful when he united beauty and mystery in 
subjects addressed to very different feelings. Yet, 
although it may be admitted that the tendency of 


Correggio's feeling and fancy, as well as the fascina- 
tion of his light and shade, found, as it were, a 
natural application in subjects of the above descrip- 
tion, it ought not to be supposed that he alone, 
among his contemporaries, ventured on such themes. 
The taste was encouraged by the age; nor were the 
painters of severer schools free from the infection, 
though their designs wanted the dangerous attrac- 
tion which Correggio's style could impart. 

In the application of (fresco) painting to archi- 
tecture, the practice of Correggio differed again 
widely from that of preceding masters : his inno- 
vations in this department may be exemplified by 
comparing his cupolas with the ceiling of the 
Sistine Chapel by Michael Angelo, That great 
painter, though a master of foreshortening, has not, 
in the instance referred to, supposed his figures to 
be above the eye, but opposite to it, so that they 
are still intelligible when seen in any other situa- 
tion, as, for example, in an engraving; Correggio, 
on the other hand, in his cupolas, always aimed at 
producing the perspective appearance of figures 
above the eye ; and the violent foreshortening 
which is the consequence renders his figures un- 
satisfactory except in their original situation and 
when seen from below, where their effect must at 
first have been marvellous. Mengs himself was 
astonished at their apparent distortion when he in- 
spected them near. Yet we have reason to believe 
that, when aided by light and shade, and in their 


uninjured state, their effect was precisely what the 
painter intended. But, after all, if the object of 
art be to meet the impressions of nature by corre- 
sponding representation, it is evident that fore- 
shortening on ceilings or cupolas, as it necessarily 
presents the human figure and all objects in a mode 
absolutely foreign to our experience, must more or 
less depart from the plain end of imitation, and can 
only excite wonder at the artist's skill. It remains 
to observe that the foreshortenings which Correggio 
has introduced in his cupolas are, in most cases, in- 
compatible with all but a general expression in the 
features, as the heads are almost always repre- 
sented as if seen from below. All nobler objects 
were thus overlooked in the pursuit of a favourite 
excellence, and Correggio ever sought the attributes 
of perspective as opposed to qualities of the mere 
surface : his management of all theelements of grada- 
tion, by which he secured space and depth, is (thus) 
less allied to that perspicuity of representation 
which distinguishes the formative arts from poetry, 
than to the specific excellences which distinguish 
painting from sculpture. To pierce in appearance 
the surface of a cupola with ascending figures, not- 
withstanding the amazing difficulty of the under- 
taking, was an enterprise quite to his taste. 

In such attempts to express space no attention 
was paid to the form of the architecture; the dome 
was apparently annihilated, and the real and unreal 
were confounded. In the subsequent abuse of this 


system the architectural forms were sometimes 
literally altered, as in the ceiling of the Jesuits' 
Church in Rome, where clouds and figures descend 
here and there below the real cornice, and appear 
to cast their shadows across it : a surface adapted 
for painting being inserted in place of the actual 
entablature where it is supposed to be covered with 
clouds. The absurdity of such caprices requires 
no comment ; but where the actual mouldings are 
not interfered with it seems at first a more doubtful 
question whether the painter has not a right to 
give the same idea of extent upwards as he aims 
at in all pictures in the horizontal sense. It 
appears, however, from the example of Michael 
Angelo and Raphael, that those masters considered 
painting on walls and ceilings wholly subservient 
to the architecture; they seem, at all events, to 
have considered that no attempt should be made to 
deceive the spectator respecting surfaces which it 
may be the architect's purpose to preserve, either 
for the unity of his design or as essential to con- 

It has been seen that Correggio, in his frescoes, 
far from sacrificing his favourite qualities in order 
to make forms more intelligible at that distance 
from which they were chiefly to be viewed, seized 
the opportunity of attempting the most daring fore- 
shortenings — such as, indeed, never occur in his oil 
pictures, where, with every aid from completeness 
of execution and the power on the part of the spec- 


tator of selecting the best point of view and the 
fittest light, perspective appearances in general 
might be more clearly expressed. The obvious 
precaution of greatly enlarging the dimensions of his 
figures in the cupolas was, however, duly observed, 
and it must be admitted that, in this respect, he cal- 
culated the proportions for the distance better than 
Michael Angelo, who, in the ceiling of the Sistine 
Chapel, began his compositions on too small a scale. 
As regards colour, Correggio seems to have fully 
comprehended the style fit for pictures requiring 
to be viewed chiefly from a distance. The pecu- 
liarity of his frescoes in this particular, as distin- 
guished from his oil pictures, is the extreme warmth 
of the shadows in the flesh : the effect of this, as 
seen from below, is quite satisfectory, although the 
exaggeration is found to be violent on near inspec- 
tion. The cooling effect of interposed atmosphere 
reduces the excessive warmth to the truth of 
nature, and prevents the opaque and leaden effect 
which would otherwise be the result. On the 
colour of Correggio's frescoes Wilkie thus expresses 
himself: — " Here, I observe, hot shadows prevail : 
this he has to a fault, making parts of his figures 
look like red chalk drawings, but the sunny and 
dazzling effect of the whole may be attributed to 
this artifice." Again : — " This great work of Cor- 
reggio (the cupola of the cathedral) has all the 
harmonious colour of his oil pictures, but is not- 
withstanding conducted upon a plan quite different 


— ^lightness and freshness being the leading prin- 
ciples. . . . The flesh tint, though never wanner 
than nature in the lights, is in the shadows hot to 
foxiness, giving much of it the appearance of a red 
chalk drawing. The eflfect of the whole is, however, 
extremely varied by different coloured lights and 
shadows, producing the utmost zest and harmony, 
and, in point of colour, the most rich and beautiful 
fresco I have seen." 

In this treatment of fresco, considered with refer- 
ence to the important department of colour, Cor- 
reggio, probably without having seen any similar 
examples, adopted the same principle which other 
great painters found, under such conditions, to be 
indispensable. The remains of Giorgione's works 
of the kind, the frescoes of Titian and Pordenone, 
more especially when in the open air, Eaphael's 
Mass of Bolsena, as well as oil pictures by the 
Venetians and by Rubens, originally intended to 
be viewed from some distance, are remarkable for 
this warmth in the shadows. Indeed, in comparing 
Correggio with these masters, it will be found that 
while he ventured to the utmost limits in the 
warmth of shadows in fresco, he is in oil pictures 
much more neutral and negative in his shadows 
than the great Flemish and Venetian masters. 

It will be unnecessary to dwell on other qualities 
which can be better exemplified in describing the 
great painter's practice in oil painting, and which 
evince the most comprehensive view both of the 


appearances of nature and of the modes of attaining 
their equivalents in art. 

Antonio Allegri was bom at Correggio, a town 
afterwards comprehended in the Duchy of Modena, 
in 1494; he died at the age of forty, thus resem- 
bling Raphael and Giorgione in the shortness of 
his career no less than in the extent of his fame. 
Little is known of the state of painting in Parma 
and its neighbourhood at the beginning of the six- 
teenth century. The influence of Francia, by 
means of his scholar Lodovico da Parma, and of 
Bellini by means of Cristoforo Caselli, are slender 
evidences of the style that may have prevailed 
there. Correggio is supposed to have learned the 
rudiments of his art from his uncle Lorenzo Allegri, 
and from Antonio Bartoletti. If Vedriani is cor- 
rect in saying that he studied under Francesco 
Bianchi, called II Frari, at Modena, this could only 
have been for a short period, as that painter died in 
1510 after a lingering illness, when the scholar was 
but sixteen years old. A picture by Francesco 
Bianchi, representing the Virgin and Child en- 
throned, St. Benedict, St. Quentin, and two angels, 
is in the gallery of the Louvre; in the general 
arrangement and in some particulars, even to the 
coloured bas-relief on the throne, this example has 
certainly a striking resemblance to an early work 
by Correggio — the St. Francis in the gallery at 
Dresden; in execution, however, it has little in 
common with the style of the great painter except 


in the softness of the gradations. In other respects 
it has the characteristics of most oil pictures of the 
period; the flesh is thinly painted, while the surface 
of the darks — of those in the blue drapery particu- 
larly — ^is comparatively raised. 

In 1511, in consequence of a plague, Manfredo, 
then Lord of Correggio, removed for a time to 
Mantua; and there is good reason to suppose that 
the young painter, then seventeen years of age, 
took refuge in that city from the same cause, pro- 
bably accompanying the court. Of the supposed 
journeys of Correggio to various parts of Italy, 
none can be more safely assumed than his visit to 
Mantua. The communication between the cities 
of Lombardy, on each side the level course of the 
Po, presented indeed no difficulty; but the inter- 
vening Apennines are perhaps to be regarded 
among the obstructions which, added to political 
jealousies, may then have rendered a journey to 
Florence somewhat formidable. At all events, 
there is no evidence to show that Correggio was 
ever in Tuscany, still less that he naade a pilgrimage 
to Rome. Had he even proceeded so far as Lucca, 
he might there have seen works by Fra Barto- 
lommeo — two of which were painted in 1509 — ^and 
in that case the sight of these pictures, remarkable 
as they are, both for force and for delicacy of light 
and shade, might not unreasonably have been sup- 
posed to have influenced in some respect the style 
of Correggio. The great painter's presence in 
Bologna rests on an apocryphal story first promul- 


gated, it seems, by Padre Resta. Correggio is here 
represented as standing before Raphael's St. Cecilia^ 
the fame of which rendered it an acknowledged type 
of excellence; but the conclusion which it forced 
on the mind of the painter of the " Notte " is said 
to have found utterance in the words, " Son pittore 
anch' io." 

The supposition that Milan was among the 
places Correggio visited receives some support from 
the connection which is to be traced between the 
works of Leonardo and his own. That connection, 
more or less distinct, but never very positive, 
consists in a sweetness of expression, in the love of 
roundness, in softness of transitions, in solidity of 
surface, and in the use of certain materials. But, 
as before observed, it is in Mantua that we must 
look for the most unquestionable sources of those 
influences which may have contributed to form the 
style of Correggio. 

The works of Andrea Mantegna, from the origi- 
nality of power which they displayed, and from the 
great reputation of the master, must there have 
made a strong impression on the mind of a young 
artist seeing them for the first time. The his- 
torians of art have traced a resemblance between 
the earliest altar-piece of Correggio — the St. 
Francis now at Dresden, and the Madonna della 
Vittoria by Mantegna, — particularly in the action 
and drapery of the Madonna, to which we shall 
presently allude ; but the quality which was likely 
to attract the young painter most, and which 


he could see nowhere carried so far, was that 
of foreshortening on ceilings. Andrea Mantegna 
died in 1506 ;• consequently, it must have been from 
his works, and not from his personal instruction, as 
some have supposed, that Correggio could have 
derived any improvement. A room in the " Ca- 
stello " at Mantua, called the " Camera dei Sposi," 
and which still exists, was completed by Mantegna 
ns early as 1474 ;f the ceiling of this room is a re- 
markable example of that species of foreshortening, 
before described, in which the objects and figures 
are represented as if seen from below, or " di sotto 
in sii." Round a supposed open space in the 
centre of the ceiling, through which the blue sky 
appears, a balustrade is painted, over which Genii 
look down into the room ; the whole being fore- 
shortened as objects would be if really so placed. 

The only other work of this kind which, as far as 
we know, had then appeared in Italy, was a fresco 
of the Ascension of Christ in the semi-dome of 
the tribune in the church of the SS. Apostoli in 
Rome (now in the Quirinal), by Melozzo da Forll, 

* This appears from a letter to the Marcbese Francesco 
Gonzaga, written September 5, 1506, by a son of Mantegna, 
announcing the death of the great painter as having taken 
place ^ on the previous Sunday. See Memorie biografiche 
dei Pittoriy Scultoriy Architetii e Incisori Mantavani, del fu 
DoUore Pasqucde-Coddi^ p. 102. The letter is given in 

t See lb., inscription in the Camera dei Sposi, by Man- 
tegna, p. 101. 


originally a fellow-scholar of Mantegna with Squar* 
clone at Padua. Melozzo's work is supposed, on 
good grounds, to have been executed about 1472 j 
it could therefore hardly have been earlier than 
the ceiling of Mantegna, which, as it required to 
be finished before the walls were painted, inay well 
be supposed to have been executed a year or two 
before 1474 — the date of the completion of the 
whole room. The " sposi " from whom this room 
received its name were Lodovico Gonzaga and 
Barbara of Brandenburgh, daughter of the Elector 
John I. A lady of the same family, Frances of 
Brandenburgh, the wife of Borso, Count of Cor- 
reggio, built a palace in 1506 at Correggio^* The 
rooms were decorated by a painter whose name has 
not been preserved, and on the ceiling of one of 
them was repeated, though in a faff less skilful 
manner, the foreshortened design of Andrea Man- 
tegna at Mantua. The sight of this ceiling, and 
still more that of the original, may have first 
awakened in Correggio the desire to attempt a 
similar work, and to this early impression the 
cupolas of Parma probably owed their existence. 

Yet it does not appear that Correggio ever aimed 
at producing elaborate architectural effects of per- 
spective. It was chiefly the foreshortening of the 
human figure which he sought to represent with 

* See Pungileopi, Memorie istoricbe di Antonio Allegri, 
1818, vol. ii. pp. 30-31. 

VOL. II. q 


truth. To do this he must either have modelled 
figures himself, in order to copy from them when 
suspended above the eye, or he must have been as- 
sisted by some sculptor. As an excellent modeller, 
Antonio Begarelli of Modena, was at hand, and as 
the tradition existed in the seventeenth century that 
Correggio availed himself of that artist's skill for 
the purpose in question, it may fairly be supposed 
that such was the fact; nor is it any derogation, 
as some writers have insisted, from the great 
painter's genius, to assume that after having com- 
pleted his design he would call in the assistance of 
a sculptor to enable him to prepare clay models of 
such figures as he could not possibly see, suspended 
as was required, in nature. At all events, it is cer- 
tain that Correggio could not have di-awn some of 
the figures ia his cupolas except by the aid of 
models prepared either by himself or by others. 

Among the earliest works attributed to Correggio, 
but of uncertain date, may be mentioned a picture 
the Betrayal of Christ, in which the incident of the 
young man escaping naked (Mark xiv. 52) is intro- 
duced. Copies are sometimes met with, and two 
exist with the obviously false dates of 1505 and 
1506 ; the original appears to be lost.* A small 
picture representing the Virgin and Child with St. 
John, the authenticity of which had been attested, 

♦ Opere di Mengs, p. 188, and n^te ; and Lanzi, vol. iv. 
p. 65 


in the beginning of the present century by various 
professors of Parma, was sold in London, at 
Christie's, with the collection of the late General 
Sir John Murray, in 1851. The well-known and 
better authenticated sketch of the Muleteers, in the 
possession of the Duke of Sutherland, is also placed 
by most writers among the master's early produc- 
tions; but, however slight, it betrays no want of 
experience or of freedom. The three pictures 
above noticed are supposed, perhaps erroneously, 
to have been executed before Correggio's visit to 
Mantua in 1511. His return to his native place is 
fixed in 1513, and the following year is the date 
of the St. Francis now at Dresden, as appears by 
the documents and accounts of expenses relating 
to it, published by Pungileoni. The undoubted 
authenticity of this work and its certain date ren- 
der it a safe criterion for the earlier practice of the 
painter. It has a certain hardness in the outlines 
from which the two last pictures above named are 
exempt, proving that at the age of twenty Correggio 
had not attained that richness and plenitude of 
manner which, soon after, characterised his works. 
With regard to the influence of particular painters 
or particular works to be traced in the St. Francis, 
it would be difficult to believe that Correggio had 
not somewhere seen examples of the expression 
of Leonardo da Vinci; the imitation of another 
master is still less questionable. It is evident 



that the Madonna, though not the infant Christ, 
in this picture, dedicated to St. Francis, is taken 
directly from Andrea Mantegna's Madonna della 
Vittoria, an altar-piece which Correggio must have 
seen at Mantua. The coincidence is so complete, 
that it would alone suffice to prove the previous 
acquaintance of Correggio with the works of An- 
drea. In justice to the earlier master, it should be 
noted that the extended hand of the Madonna is 
more successful in his work than in that of Cor- 
reggio. Setting aside this defect, the graceful, 
free, and picturesque treatment of hands for which 
Correggio was distinguished (occasionally carrying 
it to mannerism) is already apparent in its best 
form in the picture now under consideration ; as, 
for example, in the hands of the St. Catherine, the 
hand of the St. John holding the cross, and the lower 
hand of the St. Francis. That tendency in Cor- 
reggio to make the composition subservient to the 
expression of space is apparent even in this pro- 
duction, the arrangement of which might be called 
severe in comparison with his later works* The 
tendency referred to appears to have dictated a 
certain sway of the figures by which their parallelism 
with the plane of the picture is avoided, while the 
movements are agreeably contrasted with each 
other. The circumstance of the two infant angels 
above (two only are seen as entire figures) being 
neai'ly similar in action though in opposite views, 
may evidence the practice, common no doubt in the 


school of Mantegna and his followers, of using clay 
models for similar foreshortenings. 

If the St. Francis may be said to foreshadow the 
characteristics of the painter in the qualities hitherto 
considered, the resemblance is still more complete 
as regards the method of oil painting which it 
exhibits. It was probably in Mantua, during a 
residence of two years, that Correggio adopted that 
solid, full manner of painting which is more or less 
apparent in his earliest known works ; the system 
of using a thick, rich vehicle for shadows was 
common, as we have seen, to most painters of the 
time, but the smooth solidity of his lights was 
new, and may be said still to remain peculiar to 
him. The technical conditions of this surface will 
be considered hereafter; its early adoption by Cor- 
reggio may perhaps be traced to the method of 
some painters of the Mantuan school but little 
known, and with whom it may have been an acci- 
dental attribute. The remaining works of Leon- 
bruno*, for example, sometimes exhibit a fulness 
of "impasto" which, if adopted sufficiently early 
(and he was five years older than Correggio), may 
have influenced the style of the master. 

The flesh throughout the picture of St. Francis 
is smooth yet solid, nowhere so thin as to show an 
outline underneath, and nowhere hatched. The 

* Notizie storiche spettanti la Vita e le Opere di Leonbruno^ 
da 6ir. Prandi. Mantova, 1825. 


flow and fusion of the substance in the flesh tints, 
without apparent handling, indicates the use either 
of a half-resinified oil or of an oil varnish — probably 
the finest amber varnish of the Flemish masters. 
Where the vehicle abounds, for example, in lucid 
darks, as is generally the case in Correggio's works, 
the surface has frequently that blistered, roughened 
appearance so often before described as the effect 
of time on the " vemice liquida." To account for 
this, we must either suppose that the commoner 
vehicle (sandarac oil varnish) was used with the 
darks, or that a lavish use even of the amber varnish 
is subject to the same effects after a long lapse of 
time— effects consisting, apparently, in the gradual 
separation and desiccation of the oleaginous portion, 
and the concretion and agglomeration of the resin- 
ous particles. In the works of the Van Eycks and 
their immediate followers, the more moderate use 
of the oil varnish has had no worse consequences 
than to produce small, reticulated, uniform cracks, 
the substance of the vehicle having been too incon- 
siderable to cause the change above mentioned; 
but the large scale on which the Italian masters 
painted soon led to a copious employment of the 
oil varnish, and when we occasionally find the same 
change in the darks of Titian and of Rubens, we 
must either conclude that they all made use of the 
sandarac oil varnish in such portions, or that the 
firmer amber varnish, when so abundantly used, is 
liable to the same consequences. 


To return to the St. Francis. In the masses of 
shade and in the darks generally in which the 
vehicle was abundantly used, the surfftce has now 
that rugged, more or less agglomerated appearance 
before alluded to, producing the very opposite 
effect to that intended by the painter: the effect is 
especially remarkable in the shadows of the grey 
dress of the St. Francis, and in those of the red 
drapeiy of the St. John ; in the latter, especially in 
the shadow between the legs. The other pecu- 
liarities are such as we should expect from the use 
of the materials often before described ; the blue 
drapery of the Madonna has the usual prominence, 
while the red is not more raised than the general 
surface ; the flesh, as before remarked, is compara- 
tively solid and smooth, and rarely exhibits cracks : 
the left foot of the St. Francis has, however, the fine 
and numerous cracks so often occurring in the 
works of Leonardo da Vinci. The picture is on 

It will now be desirable- to take a rapid glance 
at the works of Correggio, as far as possible in 
their chronological order, indicating peculiaritieB of 
execution where they occur, but reserving any 
further remarks on his technical methods and 
materials till his principal works shall have been 

A picture painted for a church at Carpi, and 
which has been confounded by Lanzi and others 
with the St. Francis, probably represented a Pieta, 


being described as " Maria Vergine con Gesii 
Cristo nel grembo." 

The portrait of a Physician in the Dresden Gallery 
belongs to the same period : reasons for supposing 
it to represent Giambattista Lombardi rather than 
any other person, are given by Pungileoni. Hirt 
remarks that it might pass for the work of a Vene- 
tian master, but for the peculiar solidity of the 
colour which distinguishes Correggio. Mengs also 
remarks that it has even more ^'impasto" than 
Giorgione. It is on wood, and is generally free 
from cracks. Lombardi was at once the physician, 
the Mend, and the instructor of the artist; he 
was godfather to Correggio's first-bom child in 
1521. In the close intimacy which subsisted 
between them, he assisted the painter not only in 
his anatomical studies, but in such chemical re- 
searches as were calculated to aid him in the practice 
of oil painting. 

A " Riposo," formerly in the church of the Fran- 
ciscans at Correggio, representing the Virgin and 
Child, St. Francis and St. Joseph, has disappeared. 
The pretended original is in the tribune of the 
IJffizj at Florence ; but, notwithstanding some 
historical circumstances in its favour, it has not 
sufficient internal evidence to warrant its being 
classed among the genuine works of the master. 
Among other lost works may be named three 
pictures, originally forming an altar-piece in three 


parts, representing a figure of the Almighty in the 
centre, on one side St. John the Baptist, on the 
other St. Bartholomew. The picture of Christ, 
seated on a rainbow, with some angels above, for- 
merly in the Marescalchi Gallery at Bologna, is 
now in the Vatican ; it is by many not considered 
genuine. A picture of the daughter of Herodias 
with the head of St. John, and another, a shepherd 
playing on a flute, are among the works of the 
master at present known only by copies. 

The picture called S. Marta (more properly 
Margarita), containing figures of St. Peter, the 
Magdalen, and S. Leonardo, is now in the posses- 
sion of Lord Ashburton. This work, attributed 
by high authorities to the master, has, with some 
evidences of inexperience, the solidity of the flesh 
peculiar to Correggio, but the dark shadows have 
no longer the transparency nor the superficial in- 
dications of a rich vehicle. This may be partly 
the result of its having been lined (if not trans- 
ferred from wood to cloth) — a process which has 
always the effect of flattening and equalising the 
surface of the colour. The blue drapery of St. 
Peter has, however, the usual relative prominence, 
as may be seen in the portion above the yellow 
drapery. It seems that this picture was at one 
time, while at Correggio, purposely covered with 
a dark varnish to prevent it« being taken away, 
and probably the removal of this, whenever the 


operation tc)ok place, may have removed also some 
of the original surface, and may have rendered 
considerable retouchings necessary. 

An altar-piece of the same quality and period 
was painted for a church in the village of Albinea, 
near Scandiano. The composition, to judge from an 
ordinary engraving, was but indifferent. The origi- 
nal cannot at present be traced ; a copy by Boulanger 
was substituted for it in the seventeenth century. 

Of Correggio's frescoes in the convent of S. Paolo 
at Parma, painted about 1518, it is unnecessary 
here to speak, A fresco of the Assumption of 
St. Benedict, painted about the same time on the 
ceiling of the dormitory of S. Giovanni, at Parma, 
is now known only from descriptions. 

While on the subject of Correggio's frescoes, his 
more important works of that kind, though some 
were executed later, may be here enumerated. The 
cupola of the church of S. Giovanni at Parma repre- 
sented the Ascension witnessed by the Apostles: 
the figures of the latter are colossal. In the tribune 
of the same church Correggio painted the Corona- 
tion of the Virgin amid an assembly of saints and 
angels. This latter work was destroyed in 1588, 
in order to enlarge the choir. The largest frag- 
ment which was saved — part of the main subject — 
is now preserved in the Library at Parma; other 
portions are sometimes to be met with in private 
collections. Before the demolition, portions were 
copied by the Carracci, and the two pictures of 


groups of heads and portions of angels in the 
National Gallery are probably by Annibale Car- 
racci; other portions so copied are in the gallery 
at Naples. The design of the whole fresco was 
repainted in the tribune of the enlarged choir by 
Cesare Aretusi, from a copy made by him in oil. 
These frescoes in S. Giovanni were completed by 
Correggio in or before 1624.* Vestiges of another 
(fresco) representing some infants, in a garden 
niche in the precincts of the Benedictine convent 
in the same city (Parma), may still remain. Other 
less important works in fresco attributed to this 
period xnay be passed over. Some remains, re- 
moved from their original places, are preserved iji 
the church of the Circumcision, and in the Academy 
at Parma.f 

In 1519, the marriage of his sister Catherine to 
Vicenzo Mariani is supposed to have suggested the 
picture of the Marriage of St. Catherine, now in 
the Louvre, as a present to the bride. The small 
picture of the same subject in the Naples Gallery 

* The first payment on account of the cupola of the Duomo 
at Parma is dated 1526. The work was suspended occasion- 
alljy but was completed in 1531. The subject is the Assump- 
tion of the Virgin. Both cupolas — that of the Duomo and 
that of S. G-ioYanniy with other works of the master — are 
engraved in an admirable maimer bj and under the direction 
of the Cav. Toscbi. 

f For an account of some minor works in the church of 
St. John Evangelist, over the door of the chapter-house, see 
Fungileoni, pp. 145- 146* 


is different in composition, and was probably painted 
later; there is also in the same gallery a copy of 
the Louvre picture. That picture exhibits tiie 
perfectly formed technical manner of Correggio, 
while the peculiar golden tone of the flesh may 
indicate the use of a mellowing vehicle : the solidity 
of the surface is of the fullest kind, and the lights 
are almost free from cracks; the darks are com- 
paratively raised, and in some few parts are slightly 
corroded in the manner so often described; the 
blue, both in the drapery and in the distance, is 
very prominent. The Naples picture has that 
shrivelled surface which indicates a profuse liquid 
medium, probably an oil varnish; the surface is 
also minutely cracked ; the sky is more thickly 
painted than the flesh, and the blue drapery, now 
darkened, has the cracks which indicate the use of 
the " white varnish," 

Some writers place the small picture of Christ in 
the Garden, now in the possession of the Duke of 
Wellington, about this period of the master's prac- 
tice ; if they are correct it is plain that, soon after 
the age of twenty-five — ^when the Marriage of St. 
Catherine may have been painted — ^he had attained 
the perfection of that taste in chiaroscuro which 
distinguishes his finest works. The use of an oil 
varnish, or of a copious vehicle of some kind, with 
the colour, is apparent in the shrivelled surface of 
the blue drapery. 

In 1520, at the age of twenty-six, Correggio 


married Girolama Merlini, and there appears no 
reason to doubt the common opuiion, that, after the 
birth of his son Pomponio, in the following year, 
the picture of the mother with the sleeping child, 
called La Zingarella, in the Naples Gallery, that of 
the Virgin adoring the Child, in the Tribune at 
Florence, and, at a somewhat later period, that of 
the Virgin dressing the Child, in the National 
Gallery, may have been suggested by domestic 
scenes. The ZingareUa appears, from some slightly 
injured portions of the picture, to have been painted 
on a light warm ground ; the background is more 
thickly painted than the flesh ; the light portions of 
the flesh are shrivelled, but the cracks are probably 
in the ground or priming. The intense blues and 
greens have the usual prominence of surface.* 

The Madonna, with the infant lying before her, 
in the Tribune at Florence, with all its grace, 
borders so nearly on affectation and quaintness 
that it is doubted by some; in all technical re- 
spects it is worthy of the master. The substance 
is, as usual, considerable throughout; still the 
darks are thickest, and are more cracked than the 
lights. Mengs remarks that a " Noli me tangere," 

• Of this picture Wilkie says : — " The Virgin and Child with 
the Rabbit is a first-rate specimen. The white is of a rich 
cream colour, the flesh like Rembrandt's, the blue drapery 
toned into complete harmony, the green (some fresh colours) 
glazed into great depth, and the leaves of the trees behind 
the Virgin's head like the deepest emerald," 


by Correggio (formerly in the Escurial, now in the 
Madrid Gallery) is similar in style to this picture. 
The Madonna dressing the Child, in the National 
Gallery, is, as regards the painting, a perfect speci- 
men of the master ; in this instance again, although 
the flesh is remarkably solid, the darks are still 
more prominent. Mengs noticed scTeral "penti- 
menti" in this picture; they are apparent in the 
changes of the action of the Madonna, and also of 
the Infant,* 

The graceful Cupid making his bow, while two 
Amorini, in the lower part of the picture, laugh 
and weep, is well known by repetitions; on the 
authority of Vasari, it is commonly ascribed to Par- 
migianino; the invention is, however, probably due 
to Correggio alone, as it is essentially his in con- 
ception and feeling. The example in the Belvedere 
Gallery at Vienna is perhaps the original, but even 
its warmest admirers acknowledge that it has 
suffered considerably; the picture is on wood; there 
is, or was, a good copy in the same gallery by 
Heinz. The repetition in the Stafford Gallery, 
formerly in the Orleans collection, and long ascribed 
to Correggio, is now more justly attributed to 

The " Ecce Homo " in the National Gallery, a 
picture of Correggio's best time, is also one of the 
best examples of his treatment of sacred and grave 

* MengSy Opere, p. 312. 


Bubjecte.* It has been justly observed that the 
painter, distinguished as he was for a graceful 
sentimentality and an exuberance of feeling, songht, 
in undertaking such subjects, rather to express 
the passion of grief than the profound sense of 
sorrow or resignation. This work is an instance : 
the expression, even of the Christ, may be said 
rather to excite sympathy than to inspire awe, 
while those of the Madonna and the Magdalen 
embody the intenseness of grief. As this picture is 
on wood, the relative prominence of the colours is 
sufficiently apparent; the blue of the Madonna is 
much raised ; the richly varnished deeper shadows 
also indicate the use of a copious vehicle; the 
cracks in general appear to be those of the panel, or 
of the ground only ; but behind the figure of Pilate 
the peculiar cracks of the " vemice liquida" are ap- 
parent. The head of the Magdalen appears to have 
been an afterthought, or *^ pentimento,'^ as the blue 
drapery was originally completed underneath it. 

The Mercury teaching Cupid to read, in the 
National Gallery, is not in so good a state as the 
other two pictures by the master in the collection ; 
to say nothing of its retouchings, the operation of 
lining has had the usual effect of flattening the 
colour, so that there are now few indications of the 
appearance which the surface of the shadows may 
once have exhibited. 

* Reynolds' Life, bj Northcote, vol. i. p. 36. 


The Jupiter and Antiope, now in the Louvre, 
though in better preservation, has the same equality 
of surfiBuse from the same cause ; the cracks in the 
substance of the solid colour are such as are found 
in canvas that has been rolled ; a darkened varnish 
which has penetrated some of the cracks conveys 
the impression of the picture having been painted 
on a dark ground, but a careful examination shows 
that such was not the case. With the exception 
of these slight defects, the picture is an excellent 
example of the best style and period of tixe master. 
The preparation, or under-painting, of the now 
warm and golden flesh must have been cool; a rich 
brown is glazed round the outlines, in shadows, 
and round the herbage and other objects. 

The Deposition fix)m the Cross and the Martyr- 
dom of S. Placido and S. Flavia, two pictiires 
originally painted for a chapel in the church of 
S. Giovanni at Parma, are now in the gallery of 
that city. Both are on cloth, and, £rom the cause 
before mentioned, exhibit but little indication of 
the original delicacies of execution. In the De- 
position both the blue and lake draperies of the 
Virgin are covered with the minute cracks of the 
*^ vemice liquida " moderately used. In the sub- 
ject of the Martyrs*, the shrivelled surface of the 
darks indicates the more copious employment of an 
oil varnish; the same appearance is observable in 

This picture was among ike Correggios taken to Paris. 


the blue and orange draperies of the S. Flavia. 
Both pictures are tolerably free from cracks in the 
solid lights. Repetitions are in the Madrid Gallery. 
The St. Sebastian, now at Dresden, was painted 
about 1526, for the confraternity of St. Sebastian 
at Modena. It was one of the six Correggios which 
migrated from the gallery of Modena to the Saxon 
capital.* It was repaired in the seventeenth cen- 
tury by Flaminio Torre, a Bolognese painter; in 
the hands of another renovator it is said to have 
been placed in the sun, and to have suflfered in 
consequence. Its last restorer was the celebrated 
Palmeroli. It is, however, not in so ruined a state 
as was supposed. The flesh is as usual smooth 
and solidly painted; the shadows only exhibit a 
corroded appearance, the use of a rich vehicle de- 
siccated and contracted in the mode before de- 
scribed. This is observable in some shadowed 
portions of the flesh — for example, in the left leg 
and arm of the St. Sebastian, and in parts of the 
body, and still more in the shadows of draperies, as 
in those of the yellow ecclesiastical garment of the 
S. Geminiano. The surface of the blue draperies 
of the St. Rock and of the Madonna is more raised 
in comparison with the other parts. The picture is 
on wood. 

* Kiaetj-nine pictures, selected from the gallery of Fran* 
cis II., Dake of Modena, were purchased in 1745 bj Fre- 
derick Augustus III., Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, 
for the sum of 30,000 gold sequins, which, as is supposed 
were coined in Venice for the occasion. 



The "Madonna della Scodella," now in the gallery 
at Parma, may have been painted in 1528 ; the date 
on its frame when in its original place — the church 
of S. Sepolcro at Parma — ^was "1530, 19 Giugno." 
Some accounts of its having been early maltreated 
are contradicted by Meugs; but its present state, 
probably from the partial removal of glazings, does 
not exhibit that general harmony so remarkable in 
most of the master's works. The shadows have 
the short cracks and an approach to the corroded 
appearance of the usual oil varnish. The surface 
is partially cracked and blistered in the lights, as 
in the lower angel. The blue drapery of the 
Madonna and the subdued green drapery of St. 
Joseph have the raised appearance so often noticed 
on wood. Wilkie writes thus from Parma in 1826 :* 
— " The Holy Family, Madonna della Scodella, is 
here, but has suffered much — blues rubbed to the 
bone. The trees behind the Virgin are most rich 
and lucid, scarcely anything but asphaltura; the 
whole picture more thin and transparent than is his 
wont. The drapery about Joseph is of the brightest 
chrome and orange ; and though parts of the pic- 
ture are out of harmony, it is still most captivating 
in its effect." 

The celebrated St. Jerome, also in the gallery at 
Parma, must have been completed in 1527-1528, 

* Life of Sir David Wilkie, by Allan Cunningham, vol. ii. 
p. 279. 


for a chapel in S. Antonio at Parma. The com- 
mission, given some years earlier, was from Donna 
Briscide Colla; the price was four hundred gold 
" lire imperiali," and the lady, to show her satisfisus- 
tion, when the work was finished, sent to the artist 
among other acceptable presents from her farm a 
well-fattened pig.* According to another record, 
the monks of S. Antonio were the givers: in 
either case an allusion was probably intended to St. 
Anthony, for although that saint is not introduced 
in the picture, his church was benefited by the 
addition of such a work to its internal decorations. 
The inequality of the surface in this picture is at 
once a proof of its good preservation and an illus- 
tration of the practice of the master. The substance 
or " impasto " of the flesh and of the lighter objects 
generally, however solid, appear embedded next the 
darks, and next the blue draperies. This is very 
apparent in the shoulder of the infant next the 
blue on the Madonna's left, shoulder, in the right 
arm of the St. Jerome, and in the roll of paper he 
holds, as compared with the raised surface of his 
greenish blue drapery. The leg of St. Jerome 
clearly shows, with the surrounding colours, the 
practice so often illustrated; the upper portion 
next his blue drapery is much embedded as com- 
pared with that drapery; next the lake drapery it 

• The storj is al:sO told of other pie tares, with circum- 
fitaaces intended to prove the poverty of Correggio. See Pun- 
gileoni, vol. i. p. 196. 



is less so J while the knee, and the red drapery of 
the Virgin, on which the knee is relieved, are level. 
The red lining of the drapery of St. Jerome is in like 
manner embedded in the blue next it. The same 
appearance is observable in the relative surfaces 
of the shoulder of the Magdalen and the dark 
background, the latter being much more prominent. 
The portions most cracked are the blue drapery of 
the Virgin (which, in its nearer portions, exhibits a 
cream-coloured ground through the cracks) and the 
darker parts of the blue drapery of St. Jerome, 
especially behind the arm. The continuous cracks 
in the blue of the Madonna and elsewhere indicate 
the white varnish; the lake draperies and some 
of the more thinly glazed darks exhibit the short 
reticulated cracks of the firmer varnish. The solid 
smooth lights are as usual less affected in this way; 
the portion which is most cracked is the white 
drapery under the left hand of the Madonna, and 
the appearance indicates a niore copious use of the 

Wilkie observes of this picture : — * " The famous 
St. Jerome (or the Day) takes the lead; this, 
for force, richness, beauty, and expression, makes 
everything give way. Hundreds of copies have 
been made, but all poor compared with the fearless 
glazings, the impasted bituminous shadows of this 
picture." Again: " The famous picture of the Holy 

♦ Life of Sir David Wilkie, hy Allan Cunningham, vol. ii. 
p. 279. 


Family and St. Jerome, of which there are so many 
poor and black copies, though it is rich and bril- 
liant beyond description. This, compared with all 
about it, has a power quite extraordinary; the 
lights, particularly of the flesh, are mellow and 
rich, the shadows transparent and clear, and some 
of them deep as midnight. The Magdalen, for 
character, colour, and expression, is the perfec- 
tion not only of Correggio but of painting, and the 
head and body of Christ have that luminous rich* 
ness that forms one of the greatest delights and one 
of the greatest difficulties of the art. In looking 
closely into this picture, I find the lights generally 
the least loaded ; the blues extremely loaded both 
in light and shade, and the thickest paint of all is 
that in the deepest shadows in the centre of the 
picture, where the colour appears both to float and 
to crack from the impasted colour and vehicle neces- 
sary to the strength of his eflfect.* . . . His red on 
St. Jerome's drapery is of the most intense kind 
that vermilion, glazed, will produce; but if I 
do take an exception, it is to the quality of his 
brightest blues, being, in comparison with what I 
have seen in his other works, too intense and too 
cold for the harmony of the rest of the picture. 
The usual excuse in pictures of this kind is the 
ravages of the picture-cleaner; but in a work so 
carefully preserved this will not serve. The ap- 

* Life of Sir David Wilkie, bj Allan Cnnnfngham, voL ii» 
pp. 289-90. 


pearance in the blues of rubbing is not obvious; 
indeed their being painted in a thicker body than 
the rest of the picture would seem to show an inten- 
tion that they should tell strong. Their effect 
almost amounts to harshness ; but to question Cor- 
reggio's harmony is like cavilling at Sacred Writ. 
In his Madonna (the Zingarella) at Naples the blue 
is softened down to a greenish hue like Rembrandt.'^ 
On wood. 

The celebrated picture of the Nativity, called 
" La Notte," as the St. Jerome, by way of contrast, 
is distinguished as " II Giorno," was painted for the 
Pratoneri family in Reggio, and was placed in the 
church of S. Prospero in that city in 1530. Cor- 
reggio received the commission in 1522, but the 
picture does not appear to have been painted till 
1529. It was removed to Modena in 1640, and 
passed from the Ducal GaUery of that city to Dres- 
den in 1745.. It is unnecessary for our present 
purpose to dwell on the higher qualities for which 
this work is renowned. Its technical excellence 
was originally as remarkable as its invention^ but 
it is one of those works which have suffered fipom 
time and cleaning. The present relative smooth- 
ness both of lights and darks is to be attributed to 
the operations of restorers ; the blue drapery of the 
Virgin — the usual test of the preservation of a pic- 
ture of the time — is still, in a slight degree, more 
raised than the surrounding colours, but the 
shadows generally have no longer the rich sub- 


stance derived from a^ substantial vehicle, which, in 
all probability, they once possessed. 

" The Notte of Correggio," says Wilkie, writing 
in 1826, " is no longer what it was — it is a rubbed- 
out picture. The glazings upon the lights having 
been taken off, they are left white and raw, and can 
no longer be judged of as the art of that great 
master."* Elsewhere: "Correggio did not, like 
Rembrandt, in these effects attempt to give the 
colour of lamplight ; the phosphorescent quality of 
light was more his aim, as in his Christ in the 
Gai'den. But here the light on the Virgin and 
Child is white, chalky, and thin; .... Still, how- 
ever, the beauty of the Mother and Child, the 
matchless group of angels overhead, the daybreak 
in the sky, and the whole arrangement of light and 
shadow, give it the right to be considered, in con- 
ception at least, the greatest of his works." f The 
picture is on wood. 

The picture called S. Giorgio was painted for 
the church of S. Pietro Martire in Modena, about 
1531-2; from the Ducal Gallery, to which it was 
afterwards removed, it migrated with the flower of 
that collection to Dresden in the last century. The 
solidity of the lights in this picture is unimpaired 
and is very remarkable, but the rich glazings have 

* Life of Sir David Wilkie, bj Allan CuDningham, vol. ii. 
p. 327. 

t lb. vol. ii. p. 337. 


been disturbed, so as to obliterate in a great measure 
the inequalities of the surface. On wood. 

The well-known recumbent Magdalen reading 
was one of the six works of the master which, with 
other fine works in the gallery of Modena, enriched, 
or rather formed, the Dresden Gallery. The pre- 
cise date of this picture is uncertain, but it may be 
safely concluded that it was the result of the con- 
summate experience of the artist. The description 
which Sir D. Wilkie has given of this picture is 
sufficiently applicable to the purpose of these notes. 
" To those," he says, " who like pictures in their 
pristine condition, the Magdalen will be highly 
satisfactory. This is perfect, almost as left by the 
master, .... without even varnish. The neck, 
head, and arms, are beautiful; the face and right 
arm one of the finest pieces of painting I have ever 
witnessed. The shadows of this picture are ex- 
tremely loaded — ^the lights, though painted flat and 
floating, are, compared with them, thin and smooth. 
The book and left hand are finished with a sofltness 
and detail resembling Gerard Dow, or Van der 
Werf. The background and darks of this picture, 
even the blue drapery, want richness and trans^ 

Elsewhere : ^^ The small Magdalen, though it is 
very small, is in the most perfect condition; the 
head and arms most highly finished, and in a most 

* Life of Sir David Wilkie, bj Allan Cunningham^ vol. ii. 
p. 327. 

BY CORREGGie. 249 

creamy, floating manner of painting, but the back- 
ground and blue drapery want richness."* This 
picture is on copper. 

The loj the Leda, and the Ganymede have been 
so much injured and repaired that a description of 
them would be of little use. The best example of 
the first-named is in the gallery at Berlin, where 
the Leda is also preserved. The Ganymede and a 
repetition of the lo are in the Belvedere Gallery at 
Vienna. All are on cloth. The Danae, formerly 
in England, in the collection of Walsh Potter, is 
now in the Borghese Gallery in Rome ; this is also 
on cloth, and, like the pictures last noticed, is 
covered with cracks: although better preserved 
than those specimens it exhibits little inequality of 
surface : a dark blue, part of the couch, has the 
usual appearance in consequence of the thick ve- 
hicle used with it. 

The two allegorical pictures of the Triumph of 
Virtue, and the Bondage of Vice, described by 
Mengs as forming part of the Royal Gallery of 
France, are now in that part of the gallery of the 
Louvre which is devoted to drawings. Both are in 
tempera, and on cloth. A repetition of the Tri- 
umph of Virtue in the Doria Gallery in Rome is 
interesting firom being unfinished, clearly showing 
the process-— or, at least, one of the processes— of 
Correggio, not only in tempera but in oil. The 

* Life of Sir David Wilkie, by Allan Cunningham^ vol. ii. 
p. 338. 


cloth, which, as usual in tempera painting, is not 
primed, has a warm brown tint by way of ground. In 
the upper part of the picture there is a portion, 
consisting of infant genii amid some clouds, which is 
outlined only, with a red (painted) outline. The 
figure of Virtue is prepared with white and a 
brownish black only ; the high lights in this figure 
are cracked in very small cracks. The winged figure 
of Glory is partly coloured, apparently on a similar 
preparation, the flesh colour having warm shadows. 
One of the infant genii above is begun in a cold black 
and white, slightly tinted in the face and in the pale 
golden hair. The head of a figure seated near the 
figure of Virtue is finished very carefully, and in 
full colour. There is some doubt whether this 
final work is tempera or oil ; it is more probably 
the former. In consequence, perhaps, of the rolling 
of the cloth, or other careless treatment, the colour 
has scaled off in a few parts, and sometimes in lines, 
as if the cloth had been folded. The sky and green 
ground appear to have been painted at once in their 
present colour. Mengs, who also describes the 
Doria picture, does not hint at any part of it being 
in oil. He says : " In this work we see one portion 
prepared only in black and white, very thinly, but 
at the same time with the grace and intelligence of 
his finished works. Other portions are executed 
in colour, scarcely tinted, yet giving the perfect 
effect of nature. Above all, it is wonderful to 
observe the great intelligence of foreshortening, 


especially in those parts where the prominence of 
muscles or the fulness of forms partly conceals the 
forms beyond, producing that intricacy of modelling 
which is so difficult to express satisfactorily. On 
the whole, I should say," continues Mengs, " that 
there are many pictures of the master more beau- 
tiful than this, but in none of the finished exam- 
ples is the greatness of Correggio more apparent." * 

Other pictures by Correggio in tempera were once 
in the Famese collection at Parma, as appears from 
Barn's notices, and from portions of a MS. cata- 
logue of that collection published by Pungileoni. 

Having now enumerated the greater part of 
Correggio's existing works, and having described 
their appearance so far as is requisite for the pre- 
sent enquiry, it remains to compare the evidence 
so furnished with other circumstances tending to 
throw light on the technical method of this con- 
summate master. 

Every method was familiar to Correggio; the 
drawings and studies for his frescoes, which are 
preserved in various collections, are generally ex- 
ecuted, or at least completed, in red chalk f, and 
exhibit the most profound knowledge of foreshort- 
ening, the most delicate feeling for roundness, and 
a thoroughly practised hand. His love of grada- 
tion and of the imperceptible union of half-tints led 

♦ Opere di Mengs, p. 187. 

t Drawings of this class were in the collection of Yasari. 
See Pungileoni, vol. i. p. 144. 


him to use the " stump " or some similar mechanical 
means.* Among other materials he appears some- 
times to have employed coloured crayons, or, at 
all events, to have produced drawings similar to 
crayon drawings. Bellori and Baldinucci mention 
the circumstance of Baroccio having been first in- 
duced to emulate Correggio by seeing some studies 
by that master in crayons. As regards Correggio's 
practice in modelling, it must be evident to every 
painter that he used clay models for the drawing 
of some of his foreshortened figures, and for light 
and shade generally. Mengs remarks that the 
infant angels standing behind the figure of St. 
George (playing with the helmet of that saint), in 
the picture called the " S. Giorgio," show, by the 
peculiar effects of cast shadows upon them, that 
those effects must have been copied from clay 
models.f The practice of modelling, as an auxi* 
liary to foreshortening, may have been first learnt 
by Correggio at Mantua among the followers of 
Mantegna. In Mantua also he may have studied 
from specimens of the antique (which some writers 
send him to Bome to see), and in the same city he 
probably acquired that solidity in oil painting which 
neither his Modenese instructors nor the older 
artists of Parma had approached. The practice of 
tempera might have been acquired anywhere, but 

* Waagen, Kunstwerke und Kiinstler in England, vol. u 
p. 126. 
t Opere di Mengs, p. 179. 


the examples of Mantegna's Triumphs, at Mantua, 
painted as they are on cloth, were more allied to 
Correggio's freedom of hand than the laboured 
productions of the earlier masters who practised 
that method on wood. The advantage of painting 
in tempera on cloth, when delicate modelling is 
required, is that the work (otherwise rapidly dry- 
ing) can be kept moist by wetting the back of the 
picture. This method is noticed by Vasari and by 
Armenini.* The few existing tempera pictures 
by Correggio are all on cloth; whether they were 
intended as preparations for oil pictures, and whether 
all his oil pictures on cloth were originally prepared 
in tempera, it is impossible to say. The tendency 
of size colours to crack renders it advisable to use 
them very thinly ; but, even if thickly used, a layer 
of oil colour, applied with a firm vehicle, sufficiently 
fixes the more fragile substratum. The chief use 
of a light tempera preparation is to arrest the forms 
and masses of light and shade before the application 
of oil ; but the same end may be answered by using 
essential oils mixed in a large proportion with the 
fixed oil, according to the method before described 
of Leonardo da Vinci. Whatever may have been 
Correggio's object in occasionally painting in tem- 
pera, it is not probable that the fear of oil, which 
we have seen operated so strongly with some of 
the Florentines, was among his reasons. At the 

• Dei veri Precetti della Pittura^ vol. i. 


same time it is evident, from the unfinished por- 
tions of the Doria picture, and from many of his 
pictures which have, to a certain extent, lost their 
glazings, that he began his flesh colour on a com- 
paratively colourless, and sometimes even cold 
scale, as compared with the glow of his finished 
works. It is not diflicult to trace this fresh and 
cool preparation even in some of his warmest pic- 
tures, as, for example, in the Jupiter and Antiope 
in the Louvre. Others, again, like the St George at 
Dresden, and the beautiful Madonna and Child in 
the National Gallery, are probably in a cruder state 
than when they were first completed, and tend to 
throw light on the artist's process. Sir Joshua 
Reynolds was of opinion that Correggio began his 
pictures with cool colours. He says : " The Leda in 
the Colonna Palace, by Correggio, is dead-coloured 
white, and black or ultramaiine in the shadows; 
and over that is scumbled, thinly and smooth, a 
warmer tint — I believe caput mortuum [colcothar 
of vitriol]. The lights are mellow, the shadows 
bluish, but mellow. The picture is painted on 
panel, in a broad and large manner, but finished 
like an enamel; the shadows harmonise and are 
lost in the ground."* The following observation 
also occurs : " Dead colour with white and black 
only ; at the second sitting carnation ; to wit, the 
Baroccio in the Palace Albani, and the Correggio in 

♦ Northcote's Life of Reynolds, vol. i. p. 36. 


the Pamphili (Doria)." He further observes : " The 
Adonis of Titian, in the Colonna Palace, is dead- 
coloured white, with the muscles marked bold : the 
second painting, he scumbled a light colour over 
it: the lights, a mellow flesh colour; the shadows 
in the light parts of a faint purple hue — at least so 
they were at first. That purple hue seems to be 
occasioned by blackish shadows under, and the 
colour scumbled over them. I copied the Titian 
in the Colonna collection with white, umber, 
minium, cinnabar, black ; the shadows thin of 
colour. In respect to painting the flesh tint, after 
it has been finished with very strong (crude) 
colours, such as ultramarine and carmine, pass 
white over it, very, very thin with oil. I believe 
it will have a wonderful effect. Or paint carnation 
too red, and then scumble it over with white and 

The above remarks were made by Rejmolds at 
the age of twenty-seven, but his unfinished or 
damaged pictures at a very late period of his prac- 
tice exhibit a similar principle. Not long before 
his death, some pictures, which he was in the habit 
of lending for students to copy, were prepared with 
Indian red, black, white, and umber, and purposely 
left in that unfinished state. His biographer 
(Northcote) remarks: "It was always Reynolds' 
advice to his scholars to use as few colours as 

• Northcote's Life of Reynolds, vol. i. p. 37. 


possible, as the only means of being secure from 
becoming dirty or heavy in colouring."* With 
regard to the use of black, it is to be remembered 
that a preparation of shadows with white and black 
requires to be very light, for, if painted with much 
force, no glazings, however warm, can overcome 
the greyness, and the result will be heavy and 
opaque. The practice of Reynolds and of Correggio 
(in part of the Doria picture most clearly) shows 
that the use of black and white in the preparation 
is compatible with extreme warmth at last; but 
many colourists — and the late Mr. Etty may be 
quoted as an example — either avoid black altogether 
in flesh, or use it very sparingly, preferring raw 
umber. Mr. Etty used black (with white) in his 
light tempera preparations only. When questioned 
about this by the author, to whom he once showed 
a beginning in tempera, he replied : " I use black in 
this stage of the work, but never aflberwards." 

The use of a warmer and colder chiaroscuro pre- 
paration in the same work, is observable in the 
works of many colourists— in the Doria Correggio, 
in Vandyck's chiaroscuro pictures and sketches, and 
in those of Rembrandt. The later system of Rey- 
nolds — the use of white, black, Indian red, and raw 
umber — may be safely recommended, inasmuch as 
these materials comprehend representatives (how* 
ever negative) of the three primary colours; black 

♦ Northcote'a Life of Reynolds, toI. i, p. 40, note. 


representing blue, colcothar red, and umber yellow- 
In his copy of the Colonna Titian, it appears Sir 
Joshua used vermilion instead of indian red. 
Such colours, while they are too few and simple to 
become heavy by immixture, and while they thus 
invite freedom and solidity, may also be used at 
last as scumbling colours, (the black excepted) 
by which the qualities of warmth and transpa- 
rency, if not that of force, may to a great extent 
be rendered. 

When the simple materials above named, or 
others equivalent to them, have done their utmost 
in arresting form, roundness, expression, solidity, 
and, as far as possible, warmth and depth, the work 
is duly prepared for rich shadows — applied with a 
lucid but very substantial vehicle — and, for cor- 
responding half-tints and lights, toned by semi- 
transparent and transparent colours, and always 
applied with a rich vehicle. 

It is here that the great difference — after all 
more apparent than real — between the Italian and 
Flemish system is to be remarked. The advice of 
the earliest oil painters, and of Rubens, was to 
begin with the shadows. In the methods above 
noticed, the darkest shadows are first inserted after 
the work is far advanced. This seeming contradic- 
tion is easily reconciled: in the preparation, the 
rule of Rubens may, and had better be strictly fol- 
lowed ; and when the preparation is complete and 
the work thoroughly dry, the new operation is 

VOL. II. s 


only a repetition of the same order of processes on 
a more transparent scale : the painter again begins 
with the shadows — ^this time carefully avoiding 
any admixture of opaque tints with the dark trans- 
parent colours, and keeping the thinly applied (in 
their nature opaque) scumbling colours from mix- 
ing with the shadows. In short, the last operation 
of the Italian practice is, strictly speaking, the only 
operation of the Flemish practice. 

The first stage of the Italian process — the solid 
and well-modelled preparation — as has been already 
stated, was first reduced to a system by Leonardo 
da Vinci; but it was perfected, and sometimes 
perhaps abused, by Correggio and the Venetians. 
The confidence which a painter acquires when he 
is confined to a few colours, and the feeling with 
which he works when solidity is made an object, 
render him indifferent to alterations, and the works 
of the Lombard and Venetian colourists conse- 
quently often abound with pentimenti. The his- 
tory of pentimenti — literally repentances, or after- 
thoughts — tlirows some light on the progressive 
practice of art. Doubtless the early painters ab- 
j stained from such changes partly from timidity; 
but their method also had its influence. The 
fresco painters were compelled, from the nature 
of the process, to complete their design before be- 
. ginning to paint ; the tempera painters, partly from 
\ the habit of fresco and partly from the peculiar 
^conditions of tempera, as it was then practised for 


altar-pieces, considered a finished design as a pre- 
paration for the picture indispensable. The same 
may be said of the early Flemish and of some 
Italian oil painters. In all these cases it is plain 
that any experiments or changes in the composition 
must have been made in separate drawings and 
sketches. Some of the Italian masters who adopted 
the Flemish practice deviated so far from this sys- 
tem that they occasionally made considerable altera- 
tions in the design on which the picture itself was 
to be painted, but, in general, none in the picture 
properly so called. Fra Bartolommeo, for example, 
sometimes painted on outlines on which the original 
sketch and the subsequent (and final) composition 
existed together, the picture itself being altered 
no more. Lastly, pentimenti in the picture itself 
suppose solidity, and hence they occur chiefly in 
the works of the habitually solid painters, such as 
the Lombards, the Venetians, and their followers. 
The brightness of the ground is of less im- 
portance when that ground is everywhere thickly 
covered; still, as a measure of precaution, it is 
always desirable to use a light ground, as it is 
always convenient to paint on one slightly tinted. 
Correggio's tempera work in the Doria is on a warm 
brown ground; his oil pictures appear to have 
been painted on a lighter warm tint. Penti- 
menti sometimes, as the case may happen, are 
painted on the worst possible ground; thus the 

s 2 


alteration in the face and neck of the Madonna, and 
the introduction of the hand of the Magdalen in 
the *' Ecce Homo " of Correggio in the National 
Gallery,' involved the necessity in both cases of 
painting flesh on a very dark blue. It has before 
been explained that the tendency of the white to 
become transparent sooner or later renders the dark 
colour underneath visible, even when the super- 
added pigment is unusually thick. On this account 
it is advisable to remove very dark colours, and to 
lay bare the light ground before repainting. 

Black, white, and red were, in the opinion of 
Reynolds, sufficient to prepare a picture for the 
colouring of Correggio. In speaking of the Vene- 
tian painters we shall hereafter have occasion to 
quote a still higher authority recommending the 
same materials. Black, white, and red are suffi- 
cient not only to prepare a picture, but to imitate 
nature in many important qualities closely; and 
when no approach to completeness is attainable 
with such means, the addition of a multiplicity of 
colours would not really finish the work more, but, 
on the contrary, would rather multiply its defects. 
The extreme of force is obviously not within the 
compass of such colours, especially as blackness is 
to be avoided ; for while black itself has not the 
depth of some intense and transparent browns, the 
necessity of always largely qualifying it with red, 
and in most cases even with white, leaves the ex- 
treme depths unexpressed. The last glow of 


warmth is also clearly unattainable with such 
means. But, with these exceptions, most of the 
attributes of the skilful painter can be expressed 
with the simple materials in question* 

Solidity of execution, with the vivacity and 
graces of handling ; the elasticity of surface, which 
depends on the due balance of sharpness and soft- 
ness ; the vigorous touch and the delicate marking 
— all subservient to truth of modelling — are quali- 
ties admired in good pictures as if colours in all 
their variety were essential to produce them ; but 
the material conditions on which such qualities de- 
pend are literally confined to solid white paint and 
any representative of darkness which can serve to 
measure the gradations of light. 

The skilful application of a relatively dark colour 
on a light ground — often so admirable to painters* 
eyes in the backgrounds and obscurer portions of 
Rembrandt, Rubens, and Teniers— the depth that is 
expressed by an irregular veil of comparative dark- 
ness swept over the light ground, while that light 
is seen more or less in unequal intensities and 
shapes, as glimpses of it appear through the mazy 
network of the large brush-marks, or disappear in 
more cloudy patches — this expression of depth, 
measured still further by more or less solid work 
above it, and by thinner darks above all — this 
mastery, by which the flat surface is transformed 
into space, so fascinating in the judicious unfi- 
nish of a consummate workman — depends not on 


colours, but solely on the dexterous use of dark and 
light materials. 

Again, the plain definition of transparency is 
the appearance of one thing through another; the 
irregular, dragged application of a solid and opaque 
material, by allowing the under-tint to appear at 
intervals, at once conveys the impression and con- 
stitutes the fact of transparency, and, as in the 
former case, the result depends on the hand and 
eye, and on paint of any kind, not on colours as 

Lastly, all colours — even the opaque, even the 
cold — acquire warmth by being so thinly applied 
as to allow a brighter tint within to reflect light 
through them. Colours so applied may be either 
unsubstantial or transparent in their nature, or, 
though naturally solid, they may be applied in so 
thin a film that the under-tint shall be visible 
through them. The application of colours that 
are in their nature transparent is called glazing. 
The thin and transparent application of solid and 
opaque colours is called scumbling. When the 
superadded thin tint is darker than the ground on 
which it is spread, the result is warmth; when the 
thin film or tint is lighter than the ground, the 
result is coldness. The Italians have but one 
term for glazing and scumbling; for both opera- 
tions they have always used the word " velare," to 
veU. As fiinal " veilings " were always applied by 
the old masters with a thick and glossy vehicle. 


the term glazing, as it seems to imply a shining 
glassy surface, may perhaps owe its origin to the 
old practice and vehicles. 

The warmth which is attainable even with black, 
white, and red, is therefore not to be estimated by 
the mere atomic and clayey mixture of the mate- 
rials. The same may be observed of the degree 
and kind of coldness that may be expressed. The 
blueness that is produced by " veiling " black with 
white, or red with white (both being cases in which 
the under colour is the darker), is incalculably 
more pearly and ethereal than any mere admixture 
of black and white. Leonardo da Vinci did not 
omit to remark that the blueness of distant objects 
is in proportion to their darkness and to the purity 
of the intervening (white) atmosphere.* The op- 
posite effects of warmth when the superadded tint 
is the darker may be observed by holding the com- 
monest object that is thin enough to transmit light 
between the eye and the light. The ordinary, name- 
less colour of the material becomes kindled to gold 
and flame, ranging in brilliancy and glow according 
to the varying thinness of the Jiexture or substance. 
Every curtain and window-blind and every stained 
glass window exemplifies this effect of a diaphanous 
colour — ^no matter whether the medium be actually 
transparent, like glass, or relatively so, like any 
light-transmitting material — interposed between 

* Trattato della Pittura di Leo. da Vinci, pp. 22, 36. 


the eye and a light ground. Every such ap- 
pearance exemplifies the effect of glazing, while a 
white gauze suspended before a dark opening re- 
presents the operation and result of scumbling — 
viz., light over a dark ground. 

It is therefore plain that the qualities most 
admired in finely coloured pictures are not the 
consequence of the variety of materials, but of the 
skilful use of very few simple colours. But, while 
laying a stress on the power of such materials, it is 
to be remembered that the picture conducted to the 
utmost possible completion by such means is still 
deficient in (absolute) warmth and force, and still 
more obviously in variety of colour. With regard 
to the variety of colours in accessories, it is indeed 
evident, from the example of the Doria picture, 
that Correggio's chiaroscuro preparation was con- 
fined to the flesh, and that other objects were 
painted in at first — ^not indeed with their full force, 
nor, of necessity, in their full warmth and tone, 
but in their local colours. Other painters, both 
Italan and Flemish, were sometimes in the habit 
of preparing the entire picture in chiaroscuro, but 
even when that system is adopted, it appears ad- 
visable to tint the accessories t6 some approach to 
the actual colour before so treating the flesh. By 
Correggio's method, as exemplified in the instance 
of the picture referred to, and perhaps in others 
which may come to light, the want of warmth and 
vigour in the flesh would be more apparent, and 


the first toning operations would be at once nearer 
to nature. Without, however, comparing the rela- 
tive merit and utility of the two methods, it is 
sufficient to advert to the fact that the system of 
tinting the accessories at first, while the flesh was 
comparatively colourless, was in all probability the 
ordinary practice of Correggio. 

The peculiar finish of the flesh, and the softness 
of its gradations in light and shade, which are 
remarkable in Correggio's works, may have been 
partly the result of the completeness of the pre- 
paratory state, or under-painting. A picture pre- 
pared for scumbling and glazing was generally 
painted sharper and harder in the forms and 
markings than it was ultimately intended to be, 
because the general operations of thin coatings, 
scumblings, and glazings, tend to soften such 
markings. The under-painting of Correggio's flesh 
has, however, already in a great degree the requi- 
site softness, and hence, when it received the final 
operations, the gradations were stUl more delicate ; 
a certain amount of sharpness in forcible markings 
being attainable with dark transparent colours in 
finishing. The softness of the preparation does 
not, however, extend to draperies and objects that 
are rugged, crisp, and sharp in their nature : it is 
apparent even in the finished works of Correggio 
that such substances were prepared very diflferently 
from the flesh. 

A work arrived at the stage we have supposed 

266 DESCRiraioN of 

may be thus described. The flesh is solidly painted 
on a light scale, either in a neutral colour or in a 
purplish colour, which in the shadows and half- 
lights does not approach to the black or the inky. 
The deepest shadows and the darks of the hair still 
do not give the impression of blackness, but by the 
sufficient admixture of red have a purplish brown 
appearance. The lights are very nearly pure white, 
and if small in quantity are literally white ; the half- 
tints are still purplish, being rarely composed of 
white and black only. The eflfects of light and 
shade, the finer gradations in the half-tints, and the 
place of the red tints, though not in their full force, 
are all closely rendered; and the work, wanting 
only the last degree of force and warmth, has 
already a finished appearance. The last operations 
in this preparatory work have been scumblings of 
light over dark or over red to produce pearliness 
and roundness ; or, if red tints scarcely darker than 
the under-painting have been so used, it has been 
to increase warmth by transparency, and at the 
same time add to relief. The draperies and other 
objects, whether begun with the same neutral ma- 
terials or not, are carried to the same degree of 
relief with their local colours, the lights being much 
lighter, and the shadows less forcible than they are 
ultimately to appear. 

The whole work has been hitherto painted either 
with linseed oil alone, or with linseed oil diluted 
with an essential oil. The essential oil used by 


Correggio was probably petroleum, (also known as 
naphtha, or olio di sasso), which was common in the 
schools of Parma and Bologna. Petroleum is found 
in abundance in the territory of Parma and Modena, 
and according to a modem authority*, the city of 
Parma is lighted with it. But whether petroleum, 
or spirit of turpentine, or spike oil (the diluent of 
Leonardo) be used, it should be perfectly well 
rectified first; the linseed oil should also be of the 
purest kind. 

The picture so painted, and in the state that has 
been described, will probably be free firom a glossy 
surface, and will appear, from that circumstance, to 
be much less finished than it really i6. The dull 
unglossy surface, it is to be remembered, is as desi- 
rable in a picture prepared for toning as it is 
prejudicial to the efiect of the completed work, and 
the vehicle used for toning was for this reason of a 
lustrous and substantial kind. The prepared or 
dead-coloured work should be left in this state till 
the surface is perfectly dry, and if alterations are 
required they had better be made before the next 
operations are begun. It is difficult to say whether 
the pentimenti of Correggio were made while the 
work was in this state, or after it had been partially 
toned, or even quite finished; there can be no 
doubt, however, that they had better be made 
before the toning takes place. 

* Ure*s Dictionary of Arts and Manufactures, p. 879. 


The mechanical treatment of pictures, before 
toning, can be better illustrated by the more known 
practice of the Venetian and other schools. A 
picture painted with a due proportion of essential 
oil mixed with linseed oil may be turned to the 
wall without fear of discoloration, but it is safer 
to place the work so that it should receive sufficient 
light and air. It should at least be well washed 
and cleaned before it is again painted upon. 

It has been before observed that the final opera- 
tion of the Italians was the only operation, as regards 
painting and tinting, of the Flemish masters and 
of their first Italian followers. While the Flemish 
masters generally endeavoured to show the light 
ground (on which the design was carefully drawn 
and shaded) through the colour, so as to give bril- 
liancy and warmth to the superadded thin liglits 
and rich shadows which alone constituted the pic- 
ture, using a thick but lucid vehicle with the trans- 
parent or transparently used colours, the Italians 
in their final operation worked in precisely the 
same way and with the same or a similar vehicle, 
allowing the bright underrpainting to tell through 
the thin substance of the toning colours. 

The picture being quite clean and free from all 
superficial greasiness, the portion to be coloured and 
enriched should first be oiled out, and this had 
better be done with the same thick vehicle with 
which the tints are to be applied. The advice of 
Rubens is then quite applicable : begin by inserting 


your shadows, and take care that no opaque colour, 
especially white, insinuate itself into their lucid 
depths. The half-tints will then by degrees be 
floated in with tints composed more or less with 
white ; the lights, though already warmed by the 
oil varnish, should be tinted in like manner. The 
whole surface having been thus, to a certain extent, 
toned and coloured, the shadows should be gone 
over again, and should by degrees receive the last 
degree of warmth ; the lights should be revised and 
tinted in like manner; the same operation with 
transparent and semi-transparent colours, always 
applied with the same vehicle, may be repeated till 
the depth and warmth of nature is approached. 
It is quite possible now to insert (partially) more 
solid lights, cool touches, and points of warmth in 
the flowing mass of vehicle and transparent colour. 
Such operations, and indeed the application on the 
lights of opaque pigments in a semi-transparent 
state, entirely conceal the process, and give the 
work the appearance of having been painted at 
once. The draperies and accessories should be 
treated in the same way; the shadows being in- 
serted with transparent colours and applied with 
an abundance of vehicle; the lights toned either 
with transparent or semi-transparent colour ; but as 
the tint is supposed to be nearly attained in the 
preparation, transparent colours alone may suffice 
in this case. 

When fugitive or changeable colours are em- 


ployed in the accessories, they require to be locked 
up with a more than usually copious vehicle ; and 
in such cases the preserving medium appears to 
have been used with the more or less solid colour 
before the final toning. Thus the oil varnish 
abounds most in the deepest shades, whatever may 
be the colour; and in colours it abounds most in 
blues and greens — ^the first, as before explained, 
having been often painted with the carbonate of 
copper, and the latter with verdigris, and subse- 
quently with yellow lake. 

With respect to the vehicle, there is no room to 
suppose that the adoption of the Flemish method 
was not as common to the painters of Parma as to 
all other early Italian schools of oil painting. The 
careful execution of Correggio would probably lead 
him to prefer the finest and firmest of the ancient 
oil varnishes — the amber varnish. It is remarkable 
that Pliny should explain the fable that "trees 
weep amber on the banks of Po" by the fact 
that amber ornaments were very commonly worn 
ill the plains of Lombardy, while he distinctly states 
that it found its way to Italy firom the North over 
the Rhaetian Alps. A modem might have remarked 
the great use of amber as a varnish by the Cre- 
monese manufacturers of musical instruments; and 
the painter Gentileschi tells us that in his time all 
the colour- vendors in Italy sold the amber varnish 
used by the vamishers of lutes. The Flemish 
method once known, there would hardly be a more 


convenient place than Mantua, " vicino Cremona," 
for obtaining amber varnish of good quality; and 
Correggio might have been indebted to his friend 
Lombardi for preparing it in the most transparent 
state. With regard to the supply of amber, it was 
not even necessary to depend on the North, for it 
was, and is actually, found in the neighbourhood 
of Parma. It being thus probable that Correggio 
used the amber varnish in his final operations, it 
only remained to prove this by means of his exist- 
ing works. The late Professor Moreni of Parma 
is said to have analysed a portion of a damaged 
picture by Correggio, and to have detected amber 
where the traces of the vehicle were most abundant. 
Signor Moreni was hopelessly ill when the author 
sought to obtain some information from him on 
this point; but his researches were known to 
many, and Cav. Toschi, the celebrated engraver of 
the works of Correggio, has distinctly certified* 
that his deceased colleague had found amber in 
the analysis of a fragment of the " Procession to 
Calvary" in the gallery at Parma — a picture sup- 
posed to be an early work of Correggio, though, 
according to others, the production of his friend 

* In a letter to tbe author, dated July 6, 1847.—^^ 




In approaching the consideration of the methods 
of oil painting practised by the great masters of 
Venice, the first step to a right understanding and 
appreciation of those methods is to forget for a 
time many associations and reminiscences of the 
Flemish practice, even in its highest examples. 
The leading diversities of the two methods may 
be briefly stated thus. In the Flemish mode the 
composition, previously determined, being outlined 
on a white or on a light ground and the chiaroscuro 
slightly indicated, th6 picture was painted alia 
prima — that is, though the work might be long in 
hand, each part was finished as much as possible, 
and often literally, at once. The transparent darks 
in these portions were inserted frequently in their 
fiill force at first ; the greatest care was taken not 
to dull their brilliancy and depth by any admixture 
of white, or by any light opaque colour ; the half- 
tints were only moderately solid, the lights alone 
were sometimes loaded. The ground was thus 
seen through the darks and deeper half-tints, and 
often through other portions. In every part more 


or less oil varnish was used with the colours, but 
especially in the darks. The picture thus painted re- 
quired no varnish at last. Such, making due allow- 
ance for occasional varjfitions in practice, were the 
prevailing characteristics of the Flemish system. 

In the Venetian method, though the composi- 
tion was in a great measure and sometimes quite 
determined at first, alterations were admissible^ 
and the first outline was not always adhered to. 
The darks were in most cases painted much lighter 
than they were ultimately to be, and white might 
be used in any part : although roughness in the 
shadows was avoided, solidity was not restricted to 
the lights. The ground was not often seen through 
any portion of the work. No part was finished at 
once, and, far from desiring to give a glossy surface 
while the picture was in progress, the contrary ap- 
pearance was aimed at till the whole was completed. 
The vehicles, therefore, were thinner at first. 

Thus, supposing the, system to be always regu- 
lar, the Venetian abbozzo or preparation, when quite 
completed, resembled the Flemish chiaroscuro de- 
sign — the final processes of the Venetian and the 
only processes of the Flemish artist were, in a 
great measure, the same. But as the Venetian 
process was rarely so methodical as here supposed, 
it is only in the early works of the school that even 
this resemblance is to be recognised. 

The great object proposed by the Venetian 
masters was the perfection of colouring, and, in 



aiming at this, they subdivided the processes of 
painting so as to make the result more certain, but 
certa.inly demanding less immediate and constant 
exercise of all the powers than was required in the 
Flemish process, which, in a certain degree, was 
more allied to fresco. Of all the merits and ad- 
vantages of the Venetian and Italian method, the 
modems have clung most to the indolent, or what 
may be made the indolent, habit of postponing the 
exercise of necessary decision, because of the con- 
tinued possibility of alteration. Where this method 
of the abbozzo is not made use of in order to aim 
at a peculiar perfection in colouring, the alia prima^ 
neck or nothing, irrevocable Flemish method is a 
far more manly and more difficult practice. But 
whoever wishes to enjoy the luxury and delight of 
painting, should settle his design and composition 
as unalterably as Rubens did in his coloured sketches 
for great works, and then proceed with the picture 
according to the Venetian system. 

The most important difference, however, between 
the two methods remains to be noticed. In the 
Flemish mode, the ground being supposed to be, as 
it often was, white, it follows that every superadded 
tint will be darker than the ground. Darkness 
over light, provided the light be apparent through, 
produces warmth, and this was one of the sources 
of that glow which the thin shadows of the Flemish 
colourists exhibit. For the same reason that every 
tint (as distinguished from mere white) was darker 


than the ground, the cool tints of these colour- 
iBts could never be produced by passing light 
over darkness ; they therefore sometimes admitted 
the most delicate azure in their flesh, and rarely 
suffered black to come near it. The Venetians, on 
the contrary, banished blue from their flesh, be- 
cause they could produce tints of equivalent and 
even greater tenderness by passing light pigments 
very thinly over relative darks. 

The aim of the colourist is first to produce a 
pleasing balance and a constant and even minute 
interchange between cold and warm hues. His 
next object is that the nature of these warm and 
cold colours shall be of the last degree of refine- 
ment and delicacy. The system of glazing — pass- 
ing a relatively dark colour in a diaphanous state 
over a lighter colour — ^is a mode of insuring deli- 
cacy in the warm tones. And to attain an equiva- 
lent delicacy in the cool tints the expedient presents 
itself of passing a relatively light colour, or even 
white, in a diaphanous state over a darker hue. 
This method of producing the cool tones constitutes 
the essential difference between the Venetian and the 
Flemish practice. Both agree in attaining the acme 
of warmth by passing relative darkness over light, 
but the practice of the reverse as a means of obtain- 
ing coolness was not even compatible with the Fle- 
mish system, and cannot consistently form a part of it. 

In glazing to produce warmth, all colours, even 
the coldest, when light is seen through them, be» 

T 2 


come relatively warmer and more vivid ; but the 
increased warmth is a difference of degree only, 
and as such does not materially affect the nature 
of the hue ; but, in thinly passing white over 
any colour, or over darkness, to produce coolness, 
an actual change of tint takes place. Leonardo 
da Vinci remarked the production of blue by this 
means in nature, when thin colourless vapour is 
interposed between the eye and darkness or depth 
beyond, as (he instances) in the blue of the sky, 
and in the blueness of distant dark objects (see 
p. 263). So it may be observed that smoke when 
seen against a dark object appears blue, but seen 
against a light object or a light sky looks brown. 

The effect also of a film of white spread over 
differing and sufficiently warm dark colours is far 
more powerful and varied in its result than that of 
the opposite process with a film of darkness. Not 
that the changes produced by a thin pigment can 
equal the effects of vapour in nature, but the 
approach to these effects thus attainable is of the 
utmost value to the colourist — for the blueness 
which may be produced in a picture, as in nature, 
by the interposition of a light medium before dark- 
ness, especially if the darkness be warm, will be of 
the finest kind. Thus, in the Venetian practice, 
degrees both of warm and cool tints could be ob- 
tained dynamically* 9& opposed to a clayey or atomic 

* '* Dynamics : The science of the motion of bodies that mu- 
tually act on one another." Crabb's Techuological Diet. — Ed. 


mixture of the colours. In the Flemish practice 
the cool tints could only be produced by actual 
colour ; accordingly the finest azures, as we have 
said, were admitted by the Flemish masters into 
delicate flesh fi-om which black was invariably ex- 
cluded. The Venetians, on the other hand, not 
only banished all blue colour from flesh, but ad- 
mitted black in the fairest carnations ; not as a 
colour, for as such it never appeared, but as 
sufficing, when mixed with red, to give that 
amount of darkness which in its turn produced the 
pearl when seen through the lighter tints passed 
over it. To imitate this delicate eff^ect, Eubens, 
when copying or freely reproducing the works of 
Titian, introduced azure tints where the Venetians 
had obtained as fine a coolness without them. 

An objection may be raised to this system on 
the ground of its possible want of durability. It 
may be urged that, as pictures painted even with 
solid colours on a dark ground are always liable 
to grow colder by the tendency of the white pig- 
ment to become transparent, so this evil efiect may 
be the more speedily and decidedly apprehended 
where only a slight film has been laid on. It may 
be replied, that the ground in the cases referred to 
was always decidedly dark, whereas the cool tints 
we have described are only passed over what we 
have defined as relative darkness — ^viz., over hues 
often but slightly darker than themselves. But, 
even supposing a really dark ground, it v& to be 


remembered that the cool tints so brought forth 
are always preparations for glazing, and that such 
glazings effectually lock them up. On the other 
hand, such is the ultimate warmth and glow of 
Venetian pictures, that if it were possible for the 
locked-up " dynamic " greys to become cooler by 
growing more transparent, the result would be 
rather advantageous than not. Indeed, the thinner 
the superadded light becomes, the finer will be the 
tint. But, we repeat, such tints are always com- 
paratively internal, and glazings must disappear 
before their existence can be endangered. 

Another and more general objection may be 
made against the refinements of scumbling and gla- 
zing. They may be accused of being too exclusively 
subservient to colour, and of involving a certain 
effeminacy of execution. But without contending 
for the highest place in the scale of art, either for the 
Venetian school or for that perfection of colouring 
which it attained, it is not possible, in the presence 
of the master-works of Titian, Tintoret, or Paul 
Veronese, to feel that any charge of effeminacy can 
be brought against it ; and this leads us to con- 
sider the counteracting principle which at once 
ennobled and concealed the consummate refinement 
of practice which these masters have bequeathed. 

The system of producing warmth and richness 
by means of comparative darkness over light, 
whether by transparent or opaque colours thinly 
applied, had been practised and carried to great 


perfection by Giovanni Bellini and by others; but 
there is no evidence of their having known the op- 
posite process — ^namely, the eflFects of light colours 
over dark* That great master and his cotemporaries 
had all been instructed in the Flemish method, and 
it must have been long before an expedient so 
opposed to its conditions could have been enter- 

Giorgione appears to have been the first painter 
who, aiming at all that could combine freshness 
with that fiery glow which his finished works 
display, adopted a mode of preserving coolness 
which could be regulated to any extent, and in- 
troduced with safety and purity in any stage of 
the work. Assuming this to be the case, he would 
at the same time see the danger of the extreme 
softness and obliteration of form to be apprehended 
from this treatment, and therefore the necessity of 
a proportionate boldness and solidity as its basis. 
Without the substance and ruggedness of the rock, 
the superadded cloud, still more softened by glazing, 
would have wanted contrast of texture and truth 
of imitation. While therefore adopting contrivances 
which insured the softest transitions, the most per- 
fect roundness, and the largest breadth, it was im- 
possible for a painter of energetic character like 
Giorgione not to feel that the utmost vigour and 
apparent contempt of labour were requisite in the 
earlier stages of a work in order to conceal the 
delicate operations reserved for its completion. His 


follower, Sebastian del Piombo, however resolute of 
hand in preparing the abbozzOj could not conceal 
from M. Angelo the extreme delicacy of the sub- 
sequent operations; and it was of Sebastian's system 
he spoke when in an angry moment he told that 
master that oil painting was an employment fit for 
women and children. 

The energetic Tintoret was intent on avoiding 
another danger of his school — the neglect of draw- 
ing. His studies to this end, with M. Angelo's 
works as his guide, are well known; and although 
he could at times compass all the delicacies of his 
cotemporaries, his practice was so forcible and 
powerful, and his rapidity so great, that M. Angelo 
might possibly have retracted his hasty sentence, 
had he witnessed the prowess of such a workman. 

But to return to Giorgione. Without this clue 
to his style, Venetian writers who had seen his 
best works in their best state must appear to con- 
tradict themselves in speaking of his characteristics. 
According to some, one of his chief merits con- 
sisted in inventing that daring and contemptuous 
execution which forms so decided a line of separa- 
tion between him and Bellini ; at the same time it 
is stated that his outlines and forms are soft, and 
one writer (Ludovico Dolce) observes, that the 
delicacy of his transitions in masses of light and 
shade is such, that it seemed as if there was no 
shadow at all. Others refer in like manner to the 
consummate refinement with which such passages 


are blended — ^to his " sfumato " and extreme ten- 
derness — and then again extol his rapidity, his bold- 
ness, and his solid touch. In short, softness and 
freedom {^^morbidezza efranchezza ") are the attri- 
butes most frequently cited as characteristics of this 
master. All this, however seemingly incompatible, 
is perfectly true, and supplies the best eulogy on 

Whoever, therefore, aims at Venetian delicacy of 
colour cannot do justice either to the system or to 
himself unless a foimdation of the firmest execu- 
tion be prepared for it. It is also of the nature of 
solidity and freedom of hand to attract more atten- 
tion than those more indefinite processes we have 
been describing ; and it is pleasing to find spectators 
extolling the boldness and apparent carelessness of 
works which in their more subtle treatment are 
examples of the highest refinement and most ex- 
quisite delicacy. 

In this respect our country has reason to be 
proud that the finer works of Turner are a very 
intelligible introduction to one, and that not the 
least, of the excellencies of Venetian colouring. 
He depended quite as much on his scumblings with 
white as on his glazings, but the softness induced 
by both was counteracted by a substructure of the 
most abrupt and rugged kind. The subsequent 
scumbling, toned again in its turn, was the source 
of one of the many fescinations of this extraordi- 
nary painter, who gives us solid and crisp lights 


surrounded and beautifully contrasting with etherial 
nothingness, or with the semitransparent depth of 

With respect to the ultimate richness of the 
Venetians and the influence of what has been 
termed the dynamic grey underneath, . it is un- 
doubtedly true that there is more power in the 
freshness produced by light over dark than in that 
of a solid cool tint; just as there is more real 
warmth in a glazed colour than in what professes 
to be its equivalent in an atomic mixture. But all 
such refinements and remedies are not calculated 
for description. The cases are endless in which 
partial deviations even fix)m the fittest recognised 
means may serve a special purpose. All that can 
be attempted in a mere outline of this kind is to 
describe the leading principle, leaving its infinite 
modifications to the varieties of ability and feeling. 

To turn now to matters of practice. Before 
applying this system to flesh painting it is better 
to test its capabilities on subordinate subjects. 
A picture or sketch will probably be at hand, with 
rocks, broken ground or similar objects of negative 
colour, on which the painter may make the experi- 
ment, and it will interest him to find how the 
preciousness of colour may be thus imparted even 
to mere stone or clay. It is necessary that there 
should be some indications of light and shade, but 
no shadow of any extent should be intensely dark ; 
while it matters little, for the purposes proposed, 


what the forms may be, nor even, provided it be 
not absolutely false and violent, what the colour 
may be. A picture, therefore, having been se- 
lected for the experiment, the whole surface should 
be covered so thinly with white that the forms 
and the light and shade may be seen through it. 
The film of white should then be equalized and 
flattened; in glazing, when the dark colour sinks 
into the inequalities of the surface the effect 
may be agreeable, but in spreading an opaque 
colour over a more or less rough surface no par- 
ticles of the white should be allowed to collect 
round the prominent points. The readiest mode 
of flattening the colour is by beating or stabbing 
{botteggiando) with a large brush adapted for the 
purpose. The white should at last be so deli- 
cately spread that it shall look like a grey prepara- 
tion, retaining all the forms slightly blunted, and 
being equally diffused over lights and shades. 
Where the points of shadows were very dark the 
tint will be bluest ; where there was any tendency 
to warmth of colour the grey will incline to violet 
or lilac. Should it be desired to increase this 
violet tendency — the tint being exquisite of its 
kind — it will be remembered for another experi- 
ment that a previous glaze of some warm colour, 
first allowed to dry, will insure it. 

For the next process of glazing, the surface may 
be oiled out. A warm brown is the only colour 
required, but its warmth may be sometimes in- 


creased with effect. The object is to kill the cold 
colour, and the whole surface may or may not 
be first slightly tinted with this general glaze. 
Then the bluish shadows should be neutralized 
— afterwards the lower purple half-tints — tUl gradu- 
ally the whole surface is warmed. The predomi- 
nant colour will long be grey, but at last, though 
this colour is not and perhaps cannot be quite 
suppressed, it assumes a general warmth tempered 
by freshness and presenting points of contrast be- 
tween cool and glowing hues of infinite variety. 

This experiment is purposely proposed in the sim- 
plest form, but it contains the principles of the whole 
system. The elements of harmony here are two-fold, 
the cause of the coolness being universal, while the 
coolness itself is infinitely varied in degree. For it 
will be seen that the scale of colour thus produced is 
not in inverse ratio with that of the original picture. 
The varieties of coolness in the film are far greater 
than those of warmth in the substructure. The 
film of white thus added will, as we have said, 
produce blue, and in proportion to the warmth 
underneath, that tendency to red which includes 
various tender shades of the violet and purple, 
but it cannot generate yellow, orange, or green. 
These hues will be the result of the brown glazing 
(suppose asphaltum) which, passed over the bluest 
parts, gives rise to olive tints, or an approach to 
green— over the redder, tends to orange, and in 
the high lights borders on yellow. Thus, while 


there are abundant elements of harmony and 
gradation, there are infinite materials of contrast 
— and this constitutes fine colouring. 

This system of scumbling may be said to double 
the fascinations of ordinary glazing — ^indeed neither 
can be completed without the other — for as the one 
supplies warmth dynamically, so the opposite pro- 
vides coolness in the same way. With such har- 
monies as these unmixing surfaces produce, the 
mere palette has nothing to do, although the palette 
is especially required to do its work efficiently at 

Let the same method be adopted for architecture. 
Suppose a portion of a building carefully executed 
as to light and shade, with all its members defined, 
and its surface solid, and here and there crisp. It 
may be painted in black and white with a slight 
admixture of Indian red — ^or in any neutral colour. 
Cover the surface with white, and equalize it per- 
fectly as before, till the whole looks like a very 
delicate grey preparation, the light and shade and 
every form being sufficiently apparent. When dry, 
glaze as before, opposing warm lines to the pearly 
middle tints, and defining the minute mouldings 
vnth the same brown. Patches of extreme cold 
should be neutralized, and the general warmth 
regulated as desired. By way of focusing the 
browns, a stain or two, or perhaps a brown weed, 
will have a pleasing effect. So simple a process 
as this will banish all ideas of the palette, and, 


evident as the brush-work may be, and ought to be, 
will transform the mere paint into silver and gold. 

In this, as in the former experiment, purely 
dynamic conditions are purposely preserved, but the 
modelling or rounding of objects may be assisted 
or completed, even in this stage, by middle tints 
used transparently over lighter portions : — they can 
hardly require to be used over darker portions, for 
the white alone suffices in such cases. A middle tint 
of grey, composed of black, white, and Indian red, 
if used transparently and as a preparation for fresh 
glazing, will sufficiently match the dynamic grey. 
But if required to be used solidly (which is not here 
supposed) a much more elaborate compound of tints 
would be necessary. To imitate, and that imper- 
fectly, this nameless dynamic coolness in solid colour 
we recommend the following method. Place a touch 
of white on a somewhat dark-coloured palette — 
such as rosewood — spread a portion of it in various 
degrees of thinness, and various tints of grey, 
bluish, and violet will be the result. Beside these 
etherial tones make up an atomic mixture match- 
ing one or more of them. Such tints' will repre- 
sent as nearly as solid painting can the depth of 
white, and will serve to prepare its shadows. 

The above mode of finding the neutral depth of 
a tint may be applied to all colours that are lighter 
than the rosewood palette, for when very thinly 
spread they present their dynamic combination in 
the cool sense with darkness. 


In the cases hitherto supposed, the groundwork 
being nearly neutral, the grey has partaken of that 
character. But when the light film of white is 
passed over a positive colour a more or less con- 
siderable modification of that colour is the result. 
Thus a vermilion drapery is changed to a pro- 
nounced lilac; on that preparation when dry the 
shadows may be inserted with lake, the original 
colour being more excluded from the lights, and the 
half-tints assisted with a tint (applied as usual in a 
transparent state) of black, white, and much lake. 
To correct the lilac further and to mitigate the 
lake a final glazing of asphaltura, or even of semi- 
transparent yellow would be adopted. 

Again, the dynamic coolness may be sufficiently 
given to rich yellows by means of a film of Naples 
yellow instead of white, the darks being afterwards 
restored, and the cool tints neutralized with a 
deeper yellow. There are still more complicated 
modes of producing refined colours in draperies on 
the dynamic principle, but the examples giv^i 
may suffice. 

Blue, being itself the result of a light film over 
darkness, can gain nothing by being treated like 
the warm colours, as the grey produced would only 
be a degree of its own hue and would involve no 
contrast to it. A better mode of giving it value, 
for example in a sky, is to prepare the space it is 
to occupy with a very light warm transparent 
brown, gradually varied in depth according to the 


natural appearances* On this a tint of blue and 
white graduated in the same proportion should be 
so thinly passed as to show the warm colour 
through, till, at the horizon, the scarcely percep- 
tible blue is lost in the warm light of the ground. 
The clouds, if any, are in this process "left." 
The same system may be adopted in blue draperies 
— ^the folds and light and shade being entirely de- 
fined with a transparent brown. The blue is then 
painted upon it so thinly that the warm lights of 
the ground shine through it, while the deepest 
warm shades may be left almost untouched. 

It remains to speak of the application of the 
system to flesh. The black, white, and red recom- 
mended by the actual precepts or by the obvious 
practice of all colourists from Titian to Reynolds, as 
the fittest materials for light and shade, modelling 
and solidity, in the preparation of flesh (see p; 260), 
can be varied in two only of the ingredients, — in the 
black and the red. For the first the Venetians com- 
monly used " nero di Verona " — a black earth still 
to be found at Venice, and, no doubt, at Verona and 
in its neighbourhood. It is warmer than ivory or 
bone-black, or lamp-black, and perhaps warmer 
than common coal. But the coal, when mixed 
with white, is sufficiently identical with it. The 
red was generally light red, and warm reds of the 
same kind, but, no doubt, the colour called " Indian 
red " was also used. This warm red and warm 
black were quite sufficient on the one hand, when 


used transparently, to produce a rich brown, and, 
on the other, when mixed with white (with less of 
the red), and used in the same way, represented 
cool half- tints. The first operations consisted, 
however, in solid modelling and bold execution 
with these colours, which being thus few and 
simple may be fearlessly intermixed without fear 
of muddiness. Those who object to black may 
substitute the "terra verde." A swarthy com- 
plexion may be first supposed. The whole tone is 
low, and the first object as usual is to preserve 
the masses of light and shade. The forms are then 
blended in the shadows, and the masses simplified 
and partly lost by the scumbling process; in which 
case pure white is not the medium to employ, but 
a middle tint consisting always of the same black, 
white and red. (In this manner were probably pro- 
duced those low-toned preparations, without black- 
ness, which we sometimes see in over-cleaned 
Venetian pictures, when their state enables us to 
judge of the first painting.) The masses of light 
may require to be treated in the same way, the tint 
used for the purpose being much lighter, though 
still far from white. The shadowed portion may 
now be considered sufficiently prepared, and may 
be left in the broad state just described. Not so 
the light: upon the broad scumbling which does 
not quite conceal the previous modelling, that 
modelling should now be renewed with tints (pro- 
duced stUl with the same colours) applied in a 

VOL. II. u 


diaphanous state. By degrees, even with mere 
red and black (or the brownest and warmest shades 
of burnt " terra verde," still mixed with Indian red), 
the flesh acquires richness and roundness. The 
point to stop is where sufficient force cannot be 
attained without blackness. The next operation 
is glazing only with browns and reds. 

The same colours are fitted to prepare the fairest 
carnation, of course in very diflFerent proportions. 
When sufficient solidity is attained the whole may 
be scumbled with white. The shadows should 
then be restored, the extreme coolness being duly 
corrected with a tint composed from the same com- 
mon materials, while in the light portions the 
modelling and warmth should be most delicately 
renewed on the same principle. The intention of 
the scumbling is, in all cases, to produce extreme 
purity in the cool tints, and breadth in the whole : 
great care consequently should be taken not to 
destroy the tenderness of the one or the largeness 
of the other. The desired roundness and grada- 
tion being attained, more delicate tints (in the fair 
complexion) may be added, such as vermilion and 
lake in some places. 

The hair, of whatever shade, may be prepared 
with the same tints that are used for the flesh, with 
less, or sometimes no white. The principle of avoid- 
ing blackness does not even apply here, for a thin 
black, to represent the colour black, may, judiciously 
used, answer, or partly answer, the end proposed. 


All important observation should not be omitted 
in reference to the scumbling process applied to 
delicate carnations. The film of white passed over 
an already light surface will undoubtedly give it 
greater breadth, by rendering fainter the middle 
tints which are afterwards, at least partially, deli- 
cately warmed again. But a result quite as im- 
portant or more so is the production of that ex- 
quisite cool tint we have so often described. Care 
therefore should be taken not to destroy or diminish 
that relative warmth or darkness on which the ex- 
istence of the cool overlaid tint depends. If there- 
fore the flesh, in consequence of repeated general 
lightenings, be found not to have sufficient elements 
of contrast left, the remedy is to glaze it entirely 
with a warm tint, in order to provide a fresh gene- 
ral foundation for the dynamic coolness. On this 
again the warm partial glazings may be applied in 
the manner before described. 

We have alluded to the semi-opaque scumbling 
necessary for a dark complexion. The opposite 
practice in glazing may be said to meet it half way. 
For the " sfumato " of the Venetians was not pro- 
duced by common glazing, as understood of a 
perfectly transparent medium over light, but by 
colours of a semi-transparent kind. All the half 
opaque reds — flight red, Indian red, perhaps even 
vermilion, brown reds, and burnt sienna, &c. — may 
be used for warm lights, and for all but the deepest 
shades. Even these colours are too transparent, 

u 2 


and may receive both tone and body from a slight 
admixture of thick darks, or half darks — such as 
umber, burnt green earth, &c. In some cases white 
even may be necessary, or Naples yellow, but all 
yellows in glazing, or rather "nel ^fumare" are 
powerful, and give even a too golden colour. The 
transparent yellows are only fit for the extreme 
darks — ^they jaundice the lights. 

In describing a system which thus presents all 
the efiect of blending without the appearance of 
handling we have perhaps given the impression — 
very difficult to avoid in treating such subjects— 
of an over regular and definable process. The 
youthful artist will soon discover that there are no 
mechanical recipes for an art which depends on the 
subtlest decisions of the eye and mind. The ex- 
perience and observation of another may be given 
as far as possible in words ; the actual meaning of 
those words can only be determined by years of 
practice. The efficacy of the process we have 
dwelt on will be perhaps soonest apparent when 
applied, with modifications, as a remedy where more 
positive aids are fruitless. When a piece of dra- 
pery — suppose vermilion and white — white for the 
lights, pure vermilion in reflexions, black and white 
in half-tints and shadows forced with lake, toned 
afterwards with brown (sienna) — when such a piece 
of drapery has been painted in strongly, and with 
too unbroken a colour, a white film, diluted with a 
thick oleo-resinous vehicle, will restore variety, cool- 


ness, and what is called " sweetness " as opposed to 
rankness. The white film in spreading in the vehicle 
will settle into an apparently granulated (though 
really smooth surface) with points and vermicular 
forms, giving at once texture and sparkle. The 
colour so produced will be of the lilac kind. The 
white, before it settles and begins to dry, may be so 
wrought and adapted to the folds as to assist the 
relief. When dry, the too red shadows may be killed 
with umber and white, and others strengthened with 
lake and rich tones. The cool half lights and masses 
should be assisted with blue, black and white, all 
thin, and the lights further modelled by thin appli- 
cations of white. When dry, all may be glazed with 
raw sienna. Thus will be produced a rose colour tint 
of that nameless, negative kind seen in Venetian 
draperies — abounding in delicate half-tints, yet 
ultimately warm, A head also, which has become 
too unbroken and rank in colour, may be treated 
in the same way. . 

Again, we cannot too often repeat, the best coi*- 
rective for the only danger of such processes — ^viz^, 
the excess of the " sfumato '' — ^is to observe a rough 
and brisk handling in the first preparation. It is not 
impossible however to renew broken and rugged 
touches, which, by the addition of such helps as 
wax, ground resin, or ground glass, may be applied 
with substance and without colour. At all events, 
the crispness, whether given first or last, must be 
present in various degrees, preserved distiuct from 


the evanescent softness of the scumbling. This 
kind of contrast is of the most precious kind, and 
nothing contributes more to express the thinness of 
the skin and the seeming depth within it. 

A further class of scumbling must here be alluded 
to. However frequently the operations of thin 
light over dark and transparent dark over light 
may be repeated, it will at all events generally be 
found desirable when the darker glazing is getting 
dry to drag thin light here and there upon it again. 
Such delicate, dragged retouches which may be 
either conspicuous as such, or of more than gossa- 
mer thinness, have many uses. They modify the 
light where requisite, they freshen the colour, and, 
by not stirring the surface of the glazing while they 
cling to it — by being suspended as opaque particles 
on a glassy medium — ^they instantly distinguish the 
surface from what it covers, and express the depth 
within. Representations of depth, depending on 
the fine distinction of the alternately supei'posed 
colours, are peculiar to oil painting and are worthy 
of attention as thus exhibiting the capabilities of 
the method. The most perfect expression of the 
relation between substance and space is that of an 
irregular, crisp and insulated light, suspended, as 
it were, on the depth and nothingness of formless 
transparency. When the crisp touch is under- 
neath it becomes more or less blunted by rejieated 
scumblings over it, and it is sometimes desirable, 
when all is done, to raise such islands again from the 


depth. An effect precisely equivalent to this occurs 
in fresco painting, when the work is nearly dry. A 
touch of light no sooner meets the intonaco than all 
its moisture is greedily absorbed, and the impinged 
particles remain precisely as if a rock were suddenly 
left dry by the retiring of the sea. The contrast 
does not, however, remain thus complete ; for, in 
fresco, when the whole is dry the last touches 
appear to unite more with the surface on which 
they are placed. The operation in oil painting re- 
sembles this in so far that the light is added when 
the surface is nearly dry. The surface not being 
stirred, the light remains distinct upon it. In oil, 
however, the appearance has the advantage of being 
lasting. It may be sometimes observed in the 
works of Paul Veronese. 

The particulars described may be regarded by 
some as needless refinements, but this objection 
once admitted would strike at the root of all the 
finer effects of colour and transparency. There is 
another mode of looking at such studies, which is 
to regard them as a language to be learnt, the com- 
mand of which will enable and induce the artist to 
attempt the imitation of certain exquisitely delicate 
appearances in nature which he would otherwise 
consider as beyond the reach of material pigments. 
The production of various degrees of transparency 
and of the whole range of warm and cool tints by 
judicious alternations of scumbling and glazing, is 
a world which may be said to be at the painter's 


command. The art of producing such results may 
be studied at first merely as an art, and without di- 
rect reference to nature. The processes in fact are 
in a degree precisely those of nature, and therefore 
can never fail to o[)en up a universe of colour un- 
approachable by any other means. It need not 
therefore be dissembled that the dynamic method, 
considered with reference to the effect of colour 
only, involves completeness in itself, and is so far 
independent of nature as it is an application of 
nature's own means. But the power and capabili- 
ties of the system being felt, its possible refine- 
ments, with all its accidents, and all its assistance 
from vehicles and from substance — such as the re- 
peated interposition of colourless media (for which 
the ItaUan varnish is adapted) and the production 
of internal sparkle by brilliant colours half ground, 
or even by the veiled glitter of metallic particles — 
all these capabilities being felt, with many more 
aids from that " cuiming " which he has acquired 
at home, the painter goes to Nature and compares 
her world with his own. He finds that infinite as 
the Great Artist is, he too has in his possession a 
miniature scale of processes which, in the conjuring 
up of magical effects, is analogous to those which 
Nature herself puts into requisition, and he at once 
selects and delights in the most difficult of those 
problems in light and colour which the external 
world presents to him. 



With this last short chapter on Venetian methods, 
the manuscript of the second volume of " Materials 
for a History of Oil Painting " stops short. The 
work being thus incomplete, Lady Eastlake has felt 
it advisable to add a selection from a number 
of, what may be termed, professional essays and 
memoranda which Sir Charles had designed for 
ultimate publication, though deterred by ever in- 
creasing occupation from fulfilling that intention. 
Lady Eastlake has had the advantage of submit- 
ting this selection to competent judges, and is 
encouraged by them to present it to the public, 
with a view to its usefulness to the student of art. 




The agreeable impressions of Nature as address- 
ing themselves principally to the senses are those 
which are most apparent, and the colours of ob- 
jects, which seem to have no other use than to 
mark their differences, are thus intimately allied to 
the principle of beauty. The variety of colours, 
whether abruptly or imperceptibly expressed, is 
therefore their leading characteristic, and their 
office is to distinguish. The absence of colour, 
whether in light or shade, is, on the contrary, a 
common quality, its office is obviously to unite. 
That degree of light which represents the reflexion 
of its source is never admitted in the works of the 
colourists, except in polished or liquid surfaces ; 
the office of light being to display the colours of 
objects, and not itself, such shining spots would 
not only be so much deducted from the real colour 
of the object, but, as they might occur in different 
substances, they would prevent their necessary 
distinction. The degree of light which is imitated 
in art is therefore that which displays the local 


hues of objects, that is, their differences, and thus 
the common and uniting quality is mainly reduced 
to shade alone.* The highest style of colour 
vnll thus be that which expresses most fully, 
consistent with possible nature, the general local 
hues of objects. The office of shade is directly 
opposed to that of colour; in aiding those re- 
presentations of general Nature in which beauty 
resides, its end will be to display the forms of 
objects without unnecessarily concealing their 
hues. This may be considered its most abstract 
character, as freest from accident, but, as a 
vehicle of mystery in subjects which aim at sub- 
limity or principally address the imagination, it 
is most independent and effective. The idea of 
the Sublime is, however, an exception to the 
general impression of Nature, and shade will be 
more accidental as it ceases to display form, or 
unduly conceals colour. The accidental effects of 
light and shade which do not convey ideas con- 
nected with the sublime, belong therefore to the 

* Although the best colourUts never suffer the high lights to 
reflect the source of the light so strongly as to difibr decidedly 
from the hue of the object, yet it is not consistent with nature 
or the practice of those colourists to reduce '* the common 
quality to shade alone.'* The highest light on objects, with- 
out being a mirror of the source of light, is composed of 
the colour of the light and the colour of the object. The con- 
sequence of this will generally be that cold colours will have 
their lights warmer than the general hue, and warm colours 
will have their lights cooler. This approaches a common 
quality in the lights. 


lowest style. These accidental effects are infinite, 
and are all more or less opposed to the display 
of form and colour. Yet this very display is a 
relative term, and forms and hues are only ap- 
parent because others with which they are com- 
pared are less so. An unpleasant and untrue 
equality and want of gradation would be the 
consequence of neglecting this truth, and it follows 
that there is a point beyond which the display of 
local colour and the rejection of the accidents of 
light and shade would be untrue to the general 
impression of nature. 

It was the opinion of Sir Joshua Reynolds that, 
had the fine pictures of the Greeks been preserved 
to us, we should find them as well drawn as the 
Laocoon, and probably coloured like Titian ; but he 
soon after concluded on good grounds that the 
same works would perhaps be deficient in the skilful 
management of the masses of chiaroscuro. The 
general character of ancient art seems to have been 
to dwell on the permanent qualities of things in 
preference to their temporary and variable appear- 
ances, and hence the constant nature of the local 
hues of objects would be considered more worthy 
of imitation than the mutable effects of light and 
shade. The ancient paintings which have been 
preserved exhibit the excess of this system, and 
the want of gradation is among their prominent 
imperfections. The Venetians, the great modem 
examples of colour, may be considered to have 


made the nearest approach to the theory of the 
ancients without falling into their defects, or vio- 
lating the characteristic imitation of nature. Yet 
the Venetian school has not escaped the charge of 
deficiency in chiaroscuro, and although the example 
of Giorgione was followed by other men of eminence, 
the prevailing character of the school was local 
colour as opposed to light and shade. These rival 
qualities are admitted by the testimony of ages to 
have been united in Titian in such proportions as 
are most compatible with the perfection of art, and 
in him chiaroscuro is the subordinate quality. It 
would thus appear that the style in which colour 
predominates is the fittest for the display of beauty, 
and that the uncertainty of shade is adapted to 
ideas connected with the sublime. The quantity 
of shade employed by different schools seems at 
first sight to depend on the difference of climate, 
yet, in the works of Correggio, who formed his 
style under the same sun of Italy, both the colour 
and the forms are much less defined than in the 
works of the Venetians. His manner is in fact 
formed from the nature of shade ; in his hands it is 
deprived of all its less pleasing attributes, and he 
has applied it almost uniformly to subjects of 
beauty. The extraordinary union of beauty with 
mystery, so contrary to the general idea of nature, 
is still true to some of her most important facts, to 
which indeed all ideas of beauty tend ; and it is 
curious to observe that the same feeling whicli led 


Correggio to make beauty indistinct, also led him 
sometimes to treat a class of subjects which he alone 
could treat adequately. In considering beauty 
and love, or a feeling which resembles the latter, as 
cause and effect,^ it appears that the definite nature 
of the first dimLuishes as the feeling (or blindness) 
of love or admiration to which it tends, increases, 
till the abstract idea of love dwells solely in the 
imagination, and is no longer measured by its 
cause. To produce an adequate object for this 
internal sense of beauty is the great end of the 
fine arts, and its triumphs consist in meeting it by 
definite representation. The style of Correggio, 
which is one of the wonders of human invention, 
owes its charm to the union of the cause and efiect 
above mentioned. The palpable representation of 
beauty by him is more or less united with the in- 
distinctness of view which characterises the feeling 
it tends to create. The voluptuous impression 
produced by this union is doubly reprehensible in 
subjects of a certain description, but in scenes of 
a purer nature it produces a charm no other means 
can approach, and which no painter has embodied 
in an equal degree with Correggio. 

The above remarks are necessaiy to show that 
although this great artist's style belongs, strictly 
speaking, neither to the definite idea of beauty, nor 

• Burke says, " By beauty T understand a quality in things 
which creates the sentiment of love, or some feeling which re- 
sembles it." 


to the feeling of awe and fear which more or less 
accompanies the idea of the sublime, it is still true 
to very general ideas of nature, and if it were not 
so it would not be so fascinating as it is. The 
great distinction between the offices of colour and 
of shade admits in the nature of things of no other 
exception; the other great masters who have at- 
tempted to unite them, rather than to make shade 
the rule, differ widely from Correggio, and their 
styles are true to that view of nature which admits 
a certain quantity of accident. Such is the cha* 
racter of the Spanish, Flemish, and Dutch colour- 
ists ; their styles are all to be I'anged under the 
two great heads of agreeable or solenm impressions ; 
they are often beautiful and often sublime, but the 
union of beauty and mystery occurs nowhere but 
in the works of Correggio. In the works of 
Rembrandt the very opposite motive appears ; the 
effects of that great painter, even in ordinary 
subjects, approach the sublime, his shade is thus 
legitimately employed to conceal unpleasant forms 
or to excite ideas of solemnity and grandeur. His 
colour, which is equal to Titian, is, from the abun- 
dance of shade, less in quantity, but, in strict con- 
sonance with the nature of both, the accidental 
effects of shade are accompanied with proportionate 
ideas of solemnity, and his colour fascinates the 
eye with its richness and beauty. Thus, if the 
value which the scarcity of his light acquires is 
untrue to the general impression of nature in which 


beauty consists, the degree in which he departs 
from this idea never fails to bring him nearer the 
nature of the sublime. 

It must always be remembered that the sublime 
is more or less accidental or uncommon, and any 
degree of accident which tends to produce, or is 
even excused by grandeur of effect, must not be 
censured because it departs from beauty. The 
lowest styles of art are those which admit the 
greatest quantity of accident without approaching 
the sublime ; they are to be considered as lesser, or 
rather as the least degrees of beauty. It may be 
added that the works of art which belong to this 
class are not very numerous. The Dutch schools, 
however individual in form and conception, are 
abstract and large in colour and light and shade. 
Even where a work is deficient in most other 
general ideas, composition, and arrangement either 
of forms or light ai^e always observable, so that a 
purely accidental or literally imitative work of art 
is hardly to be quoted. It seems indeed a contra- 
diction to the nature of the arts. 

As usual, it will be necessary to attempt to 
define the highest style in colour and chiaroscuro 
in order to avoid the multiplicity of exceptions 
which would attend any other mode of inquiry ; it 
must only be remembered that the principles thus 
arrived at are not the only principles because they 
are the most abstract ; on the contrary, the use of 
a good rule in any part of the art is to have some- 


thing to depart from; some point by which the 
admission of accident may be measured. 

The colours in nature are so infinitely varied 
that even on comparing objects apparently similar 
in hue together, a slight difference will generally 
be perceptible. Hence, however slightly marked 
the tints of substances may be, whether in the 
light style of Guido, or in the sombre and almost 
colourless effects of Ludovico Carracci, their rela- 
tive differences must* still be in some measure 
expressed. The office of colour is to distinguish. 

The differences of objects are invariably con- 
veyed by their general effect, their component 
varieties may be, and frequently are, similar in 
some particulars, but it is obvious that the abstract 
nature of colour will be most attained by suppress- 
ing the accidental similarities in different objects, 
and dwelling only on the points of opposition. 
The skill of Titian was particularly shown in 
distinguishing objects that apparently differ but 
slightly in colour ; by exaggerating the character- 
istic hues to which they respectively tend, and by 
suppressing their common qualities. Thus Mengs 
and Fuseli justly observe that he took the pre- 
dominant quality in a colour for the only quality, 
by painting flesh which abounded in ruddy or 
warm tints entirely in such tints, and by depriving 
of all such tints a carnation which was inclined to 
paleness. This would be chiefly done if two such 
complexions were in immediate comparison, for it 

VOL. II. x 


is evident the qualities to be suppressed or dwelt 
on must always depend on the surrounding rela- 
tions. The same practice is observable, particularly 
in the Venetian school, in all other qualities; soft- 
ness and hardness, transparency and opacity are 
always more or less opposed to each other. It 
may be observed, once for all, as a general fact, 
that every quality in Nature is relative^ and that the 
comparisons which exhibit the mutual differences 
of things are as essential as "shade is to the display 
of light. 

It has been already said that the degree of light 
which represents the reflexion of its source is sup- 
pressed or sparingly admitted by the colourists, 
except where such effects are constant. In shining 
surfaces light is a common quality, for the degree 
of brightness which represents it may recur in 
similar objects. In all other cases it is the colour 
of the object, however mixed, as we have said, Avith 
the light, which is reflected to our sight, and it 
will hence be always slightly difierent. The shin- 
ing lights on skin are particularly suppressed by 
the masters of colour when the flesh happens to 
be near a brilliant surface, and on the same prin- 
ciples the softness of flesh or hair is more than 
ever dwelt on when opposed to a hard substance ; 
the light in the eye even is not shown if near very 
white linen ; the qualities would be similar, and in 
nature they are difl^erent. The degrees of these 
differences are not always possible or advisable in 


art, and Sir Joshua Reynolds objects to the prac- 
tice of Rembrandt in painting flesh as much below 
the shine of armour as it is in nature ; a diflference 
to some extent is, however, indispensable in all 
cases where it is observable in nature, for a very 
small portion of absolute similarity, if it is visible 
as such, is enough to destroy relief. The relative 
eflfect 'of objects requires the expression of such 
only of their component details as assist, or, at 
least, do not weaken their general mutual diflTer- 
ence ; in other words the intrinsic qualities are 
to be expressed in subordination to their relative 
eflfect, and where the diflference in the whole eflfect 
of objects is strong, the expi*ession of their re- 
spective intrinsic qualities is least of all necessary. 
In opposition to the practice of the great colourists, 
the modem continental schools (German renaissance 
at Rome and elsewhere), however, hold that the 
relief and detail of black objects, such as hair, 
drapery, &c., should be as equally apparent as in 
lighter substances. If this could be done without 
destroying the relative character of the object, art 
would do too much, and dark hair, so executed, 
would attract our attention before the face ; but in 
general the relative character (or value) is de- 
stroyed in the attempt, and complete failure in the 
real end of imitation (the impression of a whole) 
is the consequence of endeavouring to surpass the 
economy of nature. Whenever the characteristic 
quality of an object is that of strong opposition to 

X 2 


everything near it, its whole eflFect appears to be 
more than ever necessary in imitation. Its chief 
impression is its relative effect; a property evi- 
dently in danger of being impaired by introducing 
too many of its own intrinsic qualities. It follows 
that in all such cases (where intrinsic qualities are 
introduced) the surface or colour so treated will be 
leas>t like the object considered abstractedly. The 
effects of light on black substances are different 
from the colour of the mass, and thus materially 
weaken its relative effect. It will be found that in 
the works of the Venetian, Spanish, and Flemish 
colourists the gloss of black hair is in a great 
measure suppressed. In any other colour the 
practice is less necessary, because the effects of 
light are not necessarily so different from the local 
hue of the object. The intrinsic or proper qualities 
of objects in detail thus appear admissible in pro- 
portion as their relative effect is weak. An object 
absolutely isolated would require to be absolutely 
imitated in all its parts, but as long as a comparison 
of any kind exists, the points of difference are the 
essential requisites.* 

For the above reasons it appears (and the stand- 
ards of excellence in this part of art justify the 
conclusion) that it would be false to correct an 

♦ On the same principle. Sir Joshua Reynolds observes 
that no single figure can properly make part of a group, nor 
any figure of a group stand alone ; also elsewhere that a single 
figure requires contrast and details in its parts. 


exaggeration of the qualities of an object (if nature 
had been at all kept in view) by adding more of 
the same quality near it. The contrary practice of 
giving it character by opposition will be attended 
with better success. If flesh, for instance, is never 
more glowing than when opposed to blue, never 
more pearly than when compared with red, never 
ruddier than in the neighbourhood of green, never 
fairer than when contrasted with black, nor richer 
or deeper than when opposed to white ; these are 
obviously the contrasts such exaggerations respec- 
tively require, because they are the truest modes 
of accounting for them. To correct redness by 
red, or paleness by white is the opposite, and, as it 
would appear, the narrower and less eflfective 

It has been observed that shade is the common 
and uniting quality, for by whatever means the 
extreme degrees of it are represented, these ap- 
pearances will occur, however varied in quantity, 
in every object seen at the same distance. With 
reflexion, the region of light and colours again 
begins, but the uniting principle of shade will of 
necessity soften the differences of hues in this case, 
and it is a well-known precept that the colours of 

♦ It may be observed that any cold colour in the neighbour- 
hood of flesh must be in its mass darker than the flesh. Ked 
may be either darker or lighter — the latter if the flesh is dark 
and cold. Flesh is best treated as a dark in the neighbour- 
hood of yellow, the yellow can only be treated as a dark when 
the flesh is very glowing indeed. 


objects, however different in the lights, should be 
of the same or nearly the same colour in the 
shades.* It follows from the foregoing observa- 
tions that it would be false to the general and 
largest view of nature to unite by colour and to 
distinguish by light and shade. Both these truths, 
however, have their modifications. In all cases 
whei-e distinction by colour is no longer sufficient, 
distinction by accidents of light and shade may be 
necessary. This happens in such distances where 
the colours, even of large masses, cannot be much 
distinguished; in which case the accidents of light 
and shade are employed with success. It is very 
common to see these efifects in the backgrounds of 
Venetian pictures, although they are jealously ex- 
cluded from the nearer objects.f In the back- 
ground they remind us of the presence of light, 
which thus exhibits itself^ while in the foreground 
it is only used to display, as usual, the objects of 
nature. It may be remarked that we are only 
reminded of the source and operation of the light 
when its eflfects are accidental and somewhat extra- 
ordinary ; for, although light reflects itself in shining 
or liquid surfaces, those appearances are permanent 
in nature, and thus may belong to the highest style 

* Sir Joshua— notes on Du Fresnoy. The Venetians ex- 
hibit more of the differences of colour in shade than any other 

t Such, at least, is the general character of the school. 
Tintoret is an exceptloo, but the Bas^aus, however dark in 
their effects, are seldom accidental. 


of imitation. Again, according to high authorities, 
the difference between near and distant objects is 
often expressed by accidental shades on one or the 
other ; the distinction of near objects from each other 
by accidents of light and shade is the most direct 
infringement, and most needs circumspection. In 
large compositions where variety must necessarily 
accompany quantity and numbers, it can hardly be 
avoided, or rather it would be false to avoid it, but 
it is opposed to the most abstract interpretation of 

The Venetians never seem to admit union by 
colour till the differences of hues are lost (as we 
have said) in distance, and accident necessarily 
begins, but other schools, such as the Dutch and 
Flemish, break and diffuse the local colours some- 
times till they may be almost said to lose their 
locality and become common qualities. Sir Joshua 
Reynolds instances the Bolognese school and Ludo- 
vico Carracci in particular as the strongest example 
of this ; in his works the colours are almost reduced 
to chiaroscuro, and lose, as it were, their nature. 
Such effects can be fit only for a particular class of 
subjects, and must be considered exceptions to that 
general idea of nature in which beauty resides, but 
the more moderate degree in which the Dutch and 
Flemish practised this system does not destroy joy- 
ous impressions, but only serves to mitigate the too 
pronounced integrity of the colours. In this ques- 
tion, perhaps much of the difficulty is to be solved 


by the influence of climate, yet even the northern 
critics acknowledge the pre-eminence of the Vene- 
tian school, and Rubens, one of the chief authorities 
for the union or breaking of colours, borrowed his 
style from the Venetians themselves, the great ex- 
amples of the relative difference of hues. 

The difference between the Venetian and Flemish 
schools is, after all, less than it appears, even in the 
point under consideration. It must be remembered 
that the brightest tints we see (in the brightest 
scarlet stuffs for instance) are never pure, and it is 
as impossible to separate one colour from a ray of 
light by a dye which shall absorb all colours but 
that one, as it is to mix the whole seven into white, 
by artificial or material means. Yet these im- 
perfect tints, for such they are, of the brightest 
draperies are far too splendid for the purposes of 
art, and need to be sparingly introduced, so that a 
picture may be insufferably crude and gaudy, and 
yet be composed of impure colours. It is known 
that the brightest and apparently the purest colour 
reflects a portion of many, if not of all the others, 
nor is there a tint used in Painting, however bright, 
which is not in some degree broken by all the hues 
of the Prism. Nature is thus the remote as well 
as the immediate authority for this breaking and 
harmonising system. We are accustomed to attach 
ideas of splendour and brilliancy to the Venetian 
school, yet their pictures exhibit a low, solemn 
harmony compared to many a work that might be 


instanced belonging to modem schools. It is need- 
less to observe that this depth and harmony is 
greatly attributable to a certain breaking and 
toning of the colours; for the integrity and 
purity of the tints which are remarked as charac- 
teristic of the Venetian school are relative terms, 
and mean anything but unbroken colours. The 
difficulty of lowering, breaking, and warming the 
colours so as still to appear pure is precisely in 
what the difficulty of colouring consists, but it is 
indispensable to a just imitation of nature. It is 
perhaps impossible to determine, except by the 
testimony of that accumulated experience which 
settles the various claims of talent, to what degree the 
union of colours should be carried. That decision 
has been pronounced in favour of the Venetians as 
the highest in style, and the bad imitations of that 
school prove that it is very hazardous to attempt 
the integrity of colours further than they have 
done. The opposite system is undoubtedly safer, 
for the Flemish painters by breaking and repeating 
the colours stUl more than the Venetians, succeeded 
in forming a pleasing and harmonious, though a less 
elevated style. A still greater union such as we 
find in the Bolognese school, in Murillo, and in 
many of the Dutch painters has always been found 
to be agreeable, and has, in many cases, entitled the 
artist to the reputation of a colourist. It must not 
however be forgotten, that, to whatever degree this 
harmonising system is carried, and however mingled 


the materials appear on a close inspection, a differ* 
ence of some kind is absolutely necessary when the 
work is seen at its due distance. This is not diffi- 
cult, for it is hardly possible (even if the artist in- 
tended it) to make two colours exactly alike on the 
breaking system. In like manner the repetition of 
colours which is so often recommended, does not 
mean an absolute repetition of the same tint; a 
slight variety of it is more pleasing, and is quite 
sufficient to appear a repetition. Thus in every 
school that pretends to colour it will be found 
that the great office of distinguishing and the great 
characteristic of variety always accompany the 
management of the colours ; whatever may be the 
degree in which the principle is attended to. 


Definitions are arrived at by ascertaining what a 
thing is not. This is not so endless an enquiry as 
might at first be supposed : it would obviously be 
unnecessary to compare an object or quality with 
others totally and evidently dissimilar to it. In 
order to arrive at something like precision, the 
range of comparison must be narrower; it suffices 
to distinguish the object or quality from those 
with which it might by possibility be Confounded, 
or which, at all events, are most nearly allied 
to it. 


Definitions ai'e arrived at by ascertaining what a 
thing is not. This, which is true of mental percep- 
tion, is also true of outward vision. The immediate 
and indispensable cause of our perceiving an object, 
so as to be aware of its nature, is its difference from 
what is next it. Its essential character consists 
in those points, in which it differs from every thing 

Such being the cause of visible distinctness, the 
first step in painting, to produce a just imitation 
of nature, is to define and apply the principles of 
negation. The negative element sought may be 
either general or specific. For example, the ex- 
pression of substance will be assisted by the opposi- 
tion of space ; but the representation of a specific 
substance or object will be assisted by a com- 
parison with other objects calculated to define its 
particular character. 

To proceed in due order : it is necessary to begin 
with general negations; general distinctness, which 
is their aim, being of primary importance. For 
it is not enough that the specific character of an 
object should be accurately expressed, it is first, 
and above all, necessary that the mere substance 
should be distinct. The positive elements are 
form, light, and colour : the negative elements are 
therefore obscurity, or space, and neutrality. 

With regard to form, which always supposes 
variety, the comparative negation is the straight 
line ; the absolute negation the absence of all lines. 


With regard to light, the comparative negation is 
diminished brightness, the positive negation abso- 
lute darkness. With regard to colour, the com- 
parative negation is reduced vivacity, the positive 
negation neutrality. 

In each of these cases, the negation is the real 
cause of effect, and the attention should be chiefly 
directed to its due employment and not to the 
quality to be displayed, except only as it may be 
an exponent of the other. Diminished brightness, 
neutrality, and the absence of form are then the 
chief elements of effect, and they are to be con- 
sidered as the foundation of all visible distinctness, 
vivacity, and character. 

It is the same with other qualities; a spirited 
touch is desirable, but the touch itself is not to be 
thought of till a bed is prepared for it, which, by 
its more or less sfumato nothingness, shall give the 
touch value. 


The negative shade of every colour is best pre- 
pared by a hue exactly opposite to its light. The 
negative light of each colour may be obtained by a 
mechanical means. A colour placed on one side 
of a semi-diaphanous substance, thin ivory for in- 
stance, will give its negative light on the opposite 
side — that is, the medium of warm white through 


which it is seen makes the real colour appear 
lighter and cooler in a just proportion. Intense 
orange yellow, (deep chrome) seen through this 
transparent medium, gives for its light a warm, 
light rose colour ; vermilion gives a cold light rose 
colour ; lake, a very cold light rose or purple colour ; 
light red, a Hght purplish; burnt sienna, a light 
purplish grey; bro^vn, a light grey; or, aU these 
hght colours being given, the other colours are 
their depths or multiples. Blue gives a compara- 
tively wann light grey, light green a light greenish 

These colours are generally found together in 
nature. Thus when the sky is nearest to blue (for 
when the clouds are coloured it is no longer a 
pure blue), the clouds, with their warmish light 
grey, represent the same harmony which the above 
experiment gives, and which would be agreeable in 
a drapery. Green leaves give their negative light 
in their under colourless parts, and give as they 
change their tints also the colours that harmonise 
with green, such as brown, warm and cool, light 
yellowish brown, &c. A rose gives a cool light 
like the warm colours above mentioned, being most 
coloured in its reflexions, where the colour is mul- 
tiplied into its real strength. 

These things are easily arrived at with the more 
positive colours, but the colourist is shown most in 
balancing and adjusting with equal nicety those 
which are the most nameless. Any common colour. 


such as the toneof the ground or rock, a tree, &c., has 
its true negative light and its true shade. A picture 
that is full of exquisite harmonies of this kind, even 
to the most undefined subdivisions of the colours, 
is highly finished ; and this is one of the highest 
excellences of oil painting, because it is an excel- 
lence peculiar to this art. 


The imitation of nature teaches the artist 
prehend, or at least to have some glimpse of the 
mystery of the relations of harmony ; but the real 
power of the arts is not acknowledged or arrived at 
till the artist can supply the relations which cannot 
be got directly from nature. This creative power 
is necessary even in the lowest departments of art, 
for, unless an entire scene is copied from nature, 
something of arrangement, composition and har- 
mony is supplied by the artist. Now the science 
derived from the imitation of nature teaches what 
follows from certain data, and although the rules 
which regulate it may be, strictly speaking, useless 
to one who has not found them for himself, still 
the grander principles which influence those rules 
are intelligible and applicable from the beginning, 
and comprehend in their just application all the 
minutest cases which demand solution. There can 
be no doubt that the Greeks had reduced the arts 


to this certainty, and made them as sure in their 
results, although apparently imitative, as in the 
more creative arts of architecture, and the invention 
of the forms of vases, furniture, &c. The uniform 
and pervading excellence of all they did is not to 
be explained by any other means. 

The dependence of every portion, every atom of 
nature on what it comes in contact with, is its life^ 
its excellence, its beauty. A work of art is there- 
fore not even imitative which does not represent 
this chain of mutual dependence. It is like the 
principle of the wedge, the smallest or the largest 
portion represents the same power; and so, in a 
fine work of art, the relation of the smallest portion, 
which is thought worth admitting, to its neighbour, 
is as true as that of the grander contrasts which 
first command attention. On the other hand a 
portion of an imitative work which is not allied to 
and does not present an epitome of the whole is 
dead and false. 

Again, a work of art which is true to itself in 
these great principles of nature is more really imi- 
tative than a collection of facsimiles of the pecu 
liarities and accidents of nature, which, it will 
generally be found, have no connection with each 
other. We admire a Greek temple or a Greek vase, 
and if any one should observe that there is nothing 
like them in nature, we might wonder (admitting the 
remark) that we could admire them ; but a little re- 
flexion would teach us that we only admire because 


they are true to the principles of nature, although not 
imitative, or imitative only in the largest and tniest 
sense. The Greeks were not at a loss in thus ap- 
parently creating, because their whole practice of 
the arts, even in those more apparently imitative, 
was equally intellectual, — equally removed from 
blind copying. However startling this assertion 
may be, it will cease to appear strange when it is 
remembered that the modern imitative arts are 
equally creative wherever they command permanent 
admiration. The choice of forms and attitudes, 
or, when these are less necessary, the choice of 
colours and their exquisite dependence on each 
other, and above all the indispensable requisite of 
that general eflFect in painting which is calculated to 
attract, partake of this creative power, being imi- 
tative of nature only in her spirit. The theory 
of the fine arts therefore which are addressed to 
the eye may be defined to be the science of the 
relations of nature^ or the power of combining as 
nature combines without nature, for nature can 
only assist the artist in his actual operations by 
giving him the materials. We can thus under- 
stand it to be possible that Claude, who, his bio- 
grapher relates, spent whole days in observing the 
appearances of the outer world and in forming a 
mind equal to all cases, yet never painted a study 
from nature, although he necessarily reverted to 
her for the details of forms. 



As long as things are compared together their 
beauty will be identified with the points on which 
they differ, but the sum of these differences will be 
found to be their characteristic qualities. Hence 
the great principle of imitative art that contrast is 
as character, importance, and beauty, and hence the 
spell which rivets the attention on the points of 
interest, and regulates the gradations of interest in 
the spectator. The contrasts in nature by which 
the eye is principally informed, viz. those of forms 
and colours, are differences of kind ; the contrasts 
of light and dark, hard and soft are differences 
of degree. These, we may suppose, comprehend 
the chief contrasts in imitative art, but it is 
scarcely necessary to observe that there is no 
quality which is perceptible to the senses which 
can be a q^uality at all but as differing from 
that which it is not. The qualities of transparency, 
solidity, smoothness, proximity, &c., can only strike 
us to be such by a comparison with some approach to 
opacity, lightness, roughness, distance, and so forth. 
The vast field of observation which is spread before 
the painter accounts at once both for the rarity 
and also for the variety of excellence in this art, 
and shows how natural it is for a nation, a school, 
or an individual to select such portions of this 
translation of nature as the authority of custom, 
accident, or inclination may direct. Thus we find 



the Venetian school delighted in the vivacity which 
results from contrast of colours ; while the Flemish 
and Dutch schools dwelt rather on gradations 
of light and shade, and hardness and softness; 
excellences but imperfectly practised by the Vene- 
tians. Each school had its exceptions. In Italy, 
Leonardo da Vinci, Giorgione, and Correggio tem- 
pered more or less the display of colour witJi the 
gradations of chiaroscuro, while Rubens, Rembrandt, 
and Reynolds added the colour of Italy to the 
fascinations of the Northern schools. The quantity 
of distinctness, and the greater or less rapidity of 
gradation in what relates to the conduct of a 
picture are the points in which schools fluctuate 
most. On the hazardous question " which is to be 
preferred?" we do not hesitate to assert that the 
representation which ofifers the greatest sum of 
such contrasts as agree with the general, remem- 
bered, or permanent impressions of nature is to be 
preferred to the truth with which a particular or 
extraordinary appearance is rendered. The works 
of art which a now immutable decision has placed 
in the first class exhibit in their several depart- 
ments the largest facts or appearances of nature 
which were the object of study in that department. 
The excellence of such works in one or more 
qualities is often accompanied with very slender 
pretensions in others; hence the mistake often 
arising in the criticism of the arts, and the dif- 
ference of opinion even among artists who see 


nothing but their darling excellence. In a word, 
the excellence of imitative representation may be 
defined to be its conformity to the style of the arts 
— to the style of the particular art — and to its fit- 
ness to address human beings ; in other words, its 
general means, its specific means, and its only end. 


Finish in an imitative work implies the accurate 
and true relation of each quality to its neighbour. 
In painting, the finish which is at once most in the 
style of the art and most difficult is the nice cal- 
culation of each, hue on that next to it. Ttis is 
called fineness of colouring, but it is in fact nothing 
more or less than that truth which the art proposes. 


The flat surface is got rid of by composition, aided 
by linear and aerial perspective ; by roundness and 
gradation; by colour; by execution; and by the 
nature of the vehicle. 

As respects composition, it is got rid of by vary- 
ing the places of objects and their parts in depth, 
as opposed to superficial, basrelief composition. 
Every object should mark a different degree of 
distance. If there are but few objects, still, they 
should never occupy precisely the same plane; 
and one object should, as often as possible, be 

T 2 

324 SPACE. 

placed obliquely with the plane of the picture, 
by which means every point of its extent marks 
a dijflferent distance from that plane. With regard 
to different objects, the same rule in composition 
which, in basrelief, dictates their not being placed 
horizontally or perpendicularly in a line with each 
other, requires that they should not be equidis- 
tant from the plane of the picture. When their 
position in depth is thus varied, their apparently 
superficial parallelism, either horizontally or ver- 
tically, is of less importance ; but the same variety 
should be observed in every direction ; in the hori- 
zontal and in the perpendicular direction, and in 
the direction at right angles with the plane of the 
picture — that is, in depth. 

Architectural lines and surfaces are frequently 
parallel with the plane of the picture : the common- 
est case is a flat wall, or portion of one, directly 
opposite the eye. This is a case where the other 
modes of variety, above enumerated, are especially 
required, and where the flatness of the wall, which 
is unavoidable, should be shown to be quite distinct, 
and more or less distant., from the flat plane of the 
picture. To these modes of variety we shall return. 

The representation of space is the abstract ex- 
pression of that receding distance from the plane 
of the picture which should be marked by objects, 
when objects are introduced. In their absence 
much depends on gradation, colour, execution, and 
vehicle ; and this is one of the instances where the 

SPACE. 325 

effect of nature may be approached by means entirely 
belonging to the materials of art. The best example 
of this peculiar skill is Rembrandt. Gradation is 
applicable to a flat surface, and is therefore not in 
itself sufficient to produce the. desired effect of 
space; gradation, in the case of the varied light and 
tones on a wall, does not alter its flatness; it would 
falsify the object if it did : all that it does is to 
show that the flat surface, so represented, is, as a 
whole, more or less within and distant from the sur- 
face of the picture. It is quite allowable to give 
a greater impression of transparency and depth to 
the substance or texture of the wall than it really 
possesses, but not to falsify its general character. 
This character is easily maintained by a line of 
architecture across it, a cast shadow across it, an 
object suspended upon it, or any contrivance which 
expresses and defines its actual flatness, even though 
the execution should convey the impression, to a 
certain extent, of depth. 

But, in the expression of actual depth, the grada- 
tion, which is more or less regular on a wall, is not 
necessarily so in space. Here the appearance which, 
on a solid surface, would give the effect of undula- 
tion rather than flatness is admissible to any extent, 
subject only to the effect of chiaroscuro required 
in representing space. The in-and-in look which 
Rembrandt expresses so well might doubtless be 
regular, like a quiet evening sky, but he rarely, if 
ever, represented such unbroken effects. His depth 

326 EFFECT. 

is contrived on the same principle as its expression 
by accidentally placed objects would be conveyed 
— that is, its indications are irregular, undulating, 
and not in unbroken succession and order. The 
most distant point (if it be permitted so to distin- 
guish such vague measures of distance), whether 
expressed by darkness, by inward light, by retiring 
colour, or by execution — by the mutual relation of 
semi-superposed pigment, or by lucid vehicle mark- 
ing real depth — that most distant point or place 
represents what, in composition, would be the most 
distant object, and so of nearer points or places. 


What is called effect in painting consists in sacri- 
ficing many things for a few. This Italian word 
" despotare " is a very strong one applied to the art 
of making the principal object tell. Efiect is, 
however, incomplete till the objects or points in 
these objects (for the system may be for ever 
subdivided) surpass what is round them in all the 
requisites of effect. Perhaps the most essential 
course is to have no lines equally cutting in the 
inmiediate neighbourhood. Nothing gives relief 
more, for it corresponds with the effect produced 
in nature ; when we fix our attention on a par- 
ticular object all round it is mist and indistinct- 




In the system of thin painting, adopted by some 
Flemish masters, and perhaps carried farthest (on 
a large scale) by Fra Bartolommeo among the 
Italians, much depends on the chiaroscuro prepara- 
tion. The light ground is left for the lights, but, 
by the time the half-lights (as well as the sha- 
dows) are inserted, very little of the white ground 
remains. The transparent preparation or chiaro- 
scuro (formed by a brown only, with lights left) 
• being quite dry^ the local colour is thinly painted 
over it. Light over dark is cold ; and, in order to 
preserve the requisite warmth, the tint (suppose 
light red and white) spread over the preparation, 
still deepens in colour as the half-lights deepen: 
if this were not attended to the half-lights would 
still be too cold — and the* darkest would be the 
most leaden. But by still proportioning the depth 
of the warm flesh tint to the depth of the half- 
tint, a sufficient coolness (more or less as required) 
may always be preserved; the deepest shades 
should be retouched, if retouching is at all re- 
quired, with transparent darks only, and will con- 
sequently be very warm. In this system the cool 
tints are produced in various degrees by passing 
light over dark, and no positive cool colour need 


be introduced anywhere, except, if required, in the 
highest lights, — for there, the ground being pure 
and bright, nothing lighter (consistent with truth 
of tint) can be passed over it; consequently cool 
tints cannot be produced dynamicaUy^ that is by 
seeing dark, or any degree of it, through light. 
In such cases actual cool tints may therefore be 
introduced if necessary, and the slightest tintings, 
whether of extreme warmth (as in vermilion 
touches) or coolness, which may be required to 
complete the work or to prevent monotony, will 
effectually conceal the artifice of the process. No 
other process so well secures depth and clearness, 
and combines richness of transparency with appa- 
rent solidity. To conceal the process still more, 
the high lights may be freely impinged with ap- 
parent substance (and some actual substance) by 
the aid of a thick, but not flowing vehicle, (drying 
cerate with " vemice liquida,") and the whole may 
be finally glazed to a still warmer, deeper tone. 
The whole circle of operations might then be re- 
peated — scumbling and glazing to any extent; but 
probably without adding to the original qualities 
in colour and real depth, although other improve- 
ments (in expression, &c.) might be the result. 
If, in the chiaroscuro preparation, white is used 
to insure greater completeness in form and ex- 
pression, the whole system becomes more com- 
plicated, and care is requisite, perhaps with re- 
peated operations, to preserve transpax'ency in the 


shadows equivalent to that produced by leaving 
the ground. Heads, in unfinished pictures by 
Titian, are examples of this method. Solid chiaro- 
scuro under-paintings, but by means of glazing 
brought into much the same state as a preparation 
with the ground left, should be first laid in ; over 
such work, the thin, warm, flesh tints, leaving 
the deepest shadows for still richer tonings, would 
have the best efiect. 

In thus tinting a sky, prepared with a gradation 
of brown on a light ground (which should be quite 
dry), it is essential to clearness and depth that the 
blue and white superadded tint should be darker 
than the brown transparent preparation. When 
not so, the blue has a cold opaque look — on the 
contrary, it has always a toned warm effect when 
thinly painted over a ground lighter than itself. 
Care should therefore be taken not to make the 
brown preparation too dark, especially as the blue 
can always be toned by glazings and so rendered 
darker. In this sj'Stem of sky painting, if there is 
any solid work it can only be in the preparation, 
ultimately toned and embrowned in the mode be- 
fore described for flesh, before the thin blue is 
superadded. In order to get the blue flat (the 
preparation being quite dry) it should be laid in 
with a slow drying vehicle — ^mere oil — to which a 
little spike oil may be added to prevent needless 
yellowing. The same principle (that the super- 
added tint should always be darker) applies to all 


cold colours — green, grey, &c., but warm colours 
may be sometimes lighter than the brown ground, 
even when they are transparent, in order to pro- 
duce cool tints. 



Raw umber and white may be made a very pleasing 
colour by the light over dark, and dark over light 
system; — cool, silvery, tender tints are produced 
by the former process, and (by contrast) a great 
amount of richness by the latter. The softness 
which is the result of the scumbling and "flat- 
tening " system, with large brushes, can be agree- 
ably contrasted with pressed, abrupt, crisp touches 
in lights and in sillons lumineux with the same 
brushes — as well as by occasional sharpness in 

When umber alone has been used in darkest 
broad shades, and proves to be too opaque a 
preparation for ultimate deepest shades, it will be 
found possible to lighten and warm them a little 
by introducing vermilion and other very warm 
tints in minute quantity, and without stirring 
much, in the midst of a quantity of vehicle. This 
can be finally glazed with a very rich brown, and 
with more vehicle. In the Rubens system of lay- 
ing in the deepest shades with a dark transparent 
brown only, much vehicle should also be used with 


the colour — ^if not at first, at last. This system is 
diflBicult unless the whole be laid in with the same 
brown, for otherwise chalky solid lights continue 
long out of harmony with the rich, brown, diapha- 
nous shades — ^the eye only tolerates the latter when 
the lights are rich. 

For an ordinary brown preparation, not too 
glazy^ raw umber, warmed with a tint composed 
of Cap. brown, and burnt sienna, will do. This is 
convenient because of its quick drying before the 
dust adheres to it, but any brown, not too neutral 
(sufficiently warm) and not too oily and glazy for 
the lighter parts, will do. 

The thick glossy vehicle used at last (and which 
is useful for protecting and sealing the work) is 
not desirable at first, and as a surface to paint 
upon, for many reasons. Above all, because the 
colour does not adhere to such a glossy surface, 
and there is the danger of portions becoming after- 
wards detached. To obviate this, when painting 
on such a surface is unavoidable, it is advisable to 
soften it as much as possible beforehand, with a 
strong essential oil. The Venetian principle of 
using nothing glossy in the preparation and first 
paintings, is the safe principle. But they feared 
not a thick glossy vehicle at last, and especially 
for depth. 



As the " depth of white" is found by spreading 
white very thinly over a dark (warm) ground, and 
imitating by a solid mixed tint the pearly depth so 
produced, (seep. 286) so the (cool) depth of flesh, 
or of any warm light colour may be found in the 
same way. All such depths being more or less 
negations of the colour, or opposites to it, must 
consist of the three colours in some form or other, 
and in varied proportions — the union of the three 
being the characteristic and condition of negation. 
The purplish greys which are the result may be 
sometimes composed of blue and a warm red (the 
warm red being strictly speaking of the nature of 
orange). Thus ultramarine and light red will pro- 
duce a purplish grey fit to represent the cool depth 
of some warm lights ; black, blue, lake and umber, 
and a hundred other combinations come to the same 
general result of neutrality, but more or less^n^- 
ness and delicacy of tone is arrived at by imitating 
and matching, as nearly as possible, the ethereal tint 
produced by thin warm light over dark, when a 
flesh tint or other warm light tint is very thinly 
spread over a warm dark ground. As the light of 
this neutral coolness is warm, so the darkness 
opposed to it requires to be of the same warmth in 
an intense degree. A mellow, warm light, (wliich, 
strictly speaking, is always some degree or kind of 


orange) is, in its darkest state, the richest possible 
brown — the wannth and richness required may be 
heightened by transparency, by sho^ving a light 
ground through the warm darkness, and by render- 
ing the browns more lucid by a transparent but 
substantial vehicle. 


The colourists of all schools treat the deepest 
shades as intense and, more or less, transparent 
browns. This brown could undoubtedly be pro- 
duced by glazing over a not too dark grey (rather 
over a light grey — as was the practice, in conse- 
quence of his ground, of Rubens); but such a 
system could express no force of light and shade, 
and in Rubens' case, although the ground was 
often a light grey, the brown dark was inserted at 
first in its deepest power. There is, therefore, in 
this respect, no essential difference between the 
Italian and the Flemish practice; intense brown, 
' no miEttter how produced, is common to all the 
colourists in dark shadows. 

The system of expressing almost all degrees of 
chiaroscuro by grey, as the lower depth of white, 
led some great painters, and, to a certain extent, 
even Correggio, to adopt too blue a preparation for 
their darker shades. Neutrality, by dint of glazing, 
may doubtless- be attained in such shade, but gene- 
rally at the expense of clearness and warmth. 


Zanetti, in eulogising Giorgione, says that his 
shadows were not " bigie " or " ferrigne " like those 
of some other painters. The Lombard painters 
generally, including many followers of Leonardo 
da Yinci, have this defect, this iron coldness in the 
shadows; but even they employ deepest brown, 
and brown only, in the intensest darks. 

With this precaution, either avoiding very dark 
bluish greys in the lowest half-lights, or gradually 
warming them as they pass the ordinary force of 
light middle tints (where this coldness is desirable) 
the system of modelling with a grey that is really 
neutral cannot be too much recommended. The 
utility and the charm of this neutral tint are most 
felt when, after the preparation is dry, the middle 
tints are allowed to imbibe degrees of warmth — 
for the nature of the grey is such, from its absolute 
neutrality, that the slightest tinge of colour upon 
it is precious and harmonious. 


1. A NEUTRAL grey preparation being duly lighted 
up and modelled, without bluish low tones, and with 
brown only, or a preparation for it, in the darker 
shades— vivid green tints, not, however, of -the 
bluish kind, are passed thinly over the half-tints, the 
lights being left. The modelling may be assisted 
by darkening or lightening the green middle tint^ 
but the higher lights are, more or less, untouched. 


When dry, the whole is glazed with a rich brown 
— the precise kind, (whether semi-opaque, or dark 
orange-like, ut scisy or perfectly transparent of the 
same or of a browner tint) depending on experi- 

2. The only difference in the second mode is to 
slightly glaze the whole grey preparation with a 
warm brown at first, and, either at once, or better, 
when this glazing is dry, to insert the green middle 
tints in the mode above described. The vehicle 
for such rich operations had better be the usual 
Italian glazing vehicle. 

The question now is whether blues, light or 
intense, might not be prepared in the same way. 
In the first place the method, No. 2, above no- 
ticed, is the only one that would answer in such 
a case. The grey, well modelled, and somewhat 
sharp preparation, with brisk lights, very brilliant 
or not, according to the colour required, with half- 
tints not too bluish, and with brown in the in- 
tensest darks — this grey preparation, when dry, 
is first glazed with a rich orange-like brown. 
When dry, (and here this is essential) the blue 
middle tints are inserted in various degrees ot 
strength, so as to assist the modelling. The lights 
are as yet left, and may be altogether left in 
certain blues — ^in which case they present, by 
contrast, a broken, mellow, dusky orange-tint to 
the blue middle tints — a rich deep brown succeed- 
ing in the intensest shades, and sometimes (as 


there are examples in Titian) in reflexions. The 
crudeness of the blue, if striking, may be ultimately 
modified by glazing. 

But, if the blue be required to be very deep, the 
preparation corresponding, the lights are entirely 
covered with the blue tints (though not the deepest 
shades, which are supposed to be, partially at least, 
as dark as possible). In this operation, therefore, 
much depends on showing enough of the glazed 
and warm preparation through the blue, especially 
in the lights and in the lower tones, for, in the 
middle tints, the blue may be most powerful. In 
this again a final toning may be required. 

In repeated operations, such as those above 
described, it is not necessary to oil out when the 
dry surface is dull — as in glazing a brown over the 
solid preparation (which preparation, if properly 
executed, will present a perfectly dull surface), 
previous sponging being all that is required. But, 
after it has received the brown glazing, the sur&ce 
will probably be more or less glossy, and, in in- 
serting the blue on that surface after it is dry, it 
will be better to oil out — taking care to remove the 
oil afterwards with a linen rag till it scarcely leaves 
a trace on the cloth. 

If this treatment of blue for draperies should 
prove satisfactory (as it certainly answers in 
greens), it would also be found that skies, and 
blue mountains, and distances might be treated in 
the same way, and thus the same system would be 


used throughout. The forms of the sky being 
modelled, and the place of the blue, or portions of the 
blue, being indicated by a light grey (but not bluish ) 
middle tint — the whole, when dry, may be lightly 
glazed with a warm brown, the portions which are 
to be blue being well warmed. When dry, oil out 
as above, and insert the blue, allowing the ground 
to be partially seen through in the places intended 
for it ; varying its depth of course as required, 
and as already indicated in the preparation, and 
toning finally, if necessary^ 

In landscape, generally, the forms may be de- 
fined and the lights impinged with the grey middle 
tint lightened -with white ; still avoiding too bluish 
a grey in the lower tones. When dry, glaze first 
with brown, and then insert (the surface being 
dry) the local broken colours — masses of green, of 
brownish, yellowish, greyish, &c. — leaving the warm 
ground under and amidst the cold colours, and oc- 
casionally reviving and increasing the grey under- 
tint in the midst of warm colours. The whole 
are toned at last, more especially the greens and 
blues — the only tints which, in a landscape, are in 
danger of t)eing crude. 

With regard to reviving the grey preparation, 
this was evidently a frequent resource with the 
colourists ; the only difference being that the grey 
produced over a more or less finished and warmed 
surface may be a dynamic grey — that is, a cool 
tint produced by scumbling thinly a light tint over 

VOL. IT. z 


a dark. Still, the same grey may be employed, 
only it should be spread more thinly, Occasionallj', 
however, it may be solidly touched over the finished 
portion and toned again as required. 

This system is also observable in the practice of 
the colourists in flesh painting. It is not a regu- 
larly calculated system, or rather, the system, how- 
ever well calculated, rarely " runs smooth " through 
all the operations ; remedies are resorted to, and 
they consist in restoring comparative light and cool- 
ness where required, to be again toned and har- 
monised with the rest of the work. 

The darkest shadows, or, at all events, very 
forcible shadows, may be improved in tint, when 
required, by the same means : the grey then used 
is not a violently light colour, nor does it really 
border on blueness; that it will appear light and 
cold, when so applied, is however certain, and it 
should be so contrived that the patched portion is 
not violently offensive even before it is glazed. 

Untrue half-tints and depths may be rectified 
in the same way : they should be first scumbled 
(hotteggiando) with a neutral grey, duly removed 
from blueness. If the passage to be rectified be 
sufiiciently light, it may then be toned so as to 
harmonise with the rest of the work. 

As the depth of light golden, or warm-coloured 
hair is prepared with this grey, so the same grey 
may also be used as the preparation for the depth 
of gold; for, when warmed by the right glazing 


colour, (no matter whether semi-opaque or trans- 
parent, — ^better semi-opaque at first) it expresses 
the true depth of gold. In some pictures the 
lights appear to have been at first indicated by 
white, or a tint slightly removed from it, such 
lights being covered with opaque (that is, semi- 
opaque because thin) light yellow at last. Other 
painters have taken a shorter course, but, in the 
works of all colourists, a balance of warm and cold 
has been by some means or other preserved in the 
minutest, as well as in the largest portions. 

In repeated operations the principle, therefore, 
seems to be neutrality upon colour, and colour 
upon neutrality. The only exceptions are blue and 
green, which require to be inserted on a surface 
apparently the opposite colour. Lastly, purple is 
the representative and index of opacity; when 
treated as a transparent colour it is most agree- 
able when it has more lake than blue. A deep 
transparent violet is found in works of the Ferra- 
rese and Milanese painters, but never in those of the 
Venetians. The purples or lilacs of the Venetians 
are always opaque, and appear as half-lights, never 
as transparent intense darks, and never as high 


In painting the human figure, the refinements of 
expression and the perfect anatomical modelling 
of parts in subordination to general roimdness, sup- 



pose, at least in some stage of the work, great nicety 
of execution and great delicacy of manipulation. 
Whether this can be accompanied with evident 
freedom or not, there should, at least, be no appear- 
ance of labour. If the touch cannot be light and 
varied, it should not be apparent at all. There is 
no danger of extreme minuteness in the solid paint- 
ing, nor in the transparent shades. In the first, 
the bright preparation may consist of few and 
simple colours, and as there can be no fear of sully- 
ing such colours, even in the lowest half-tints, there 
can be no temptation to a timid handling. In the 
shades also, if inserted once for all in a transparent 
state, on the Flemish system, any approach to 
minuteness of touch (except where mere lines are 
required) can be obviated by sweeping lightly over 
such touches with a broad soft brush ; and if, on 
the other hand, the shades are painted more solidly, 
to be aftex^wards glazed, the method presents no 
more difficulty than that adopted in the lights, an- 
swering to that produced by the Italian " sfuminoy 
The degree of minuteness lies rather in the final 
retouchings and scumblings with a view to truth of 
modelling and tinting, and the evil is best obviated 
by glazing, or at least oiling out (and removing the 
superfluous oil) before beginning these more delicate 
operations. For if such operations are attempted 
on a dry surface, the scale of the work being small, 
a greater or less amount of stippling is the almost 
unavoidable consequence. No spreading and soften- 


ing with the ^^sfumino'' overcomes this quite, because 
many minute (hollow) portions of the surface re- 
main dry, and present an untoned contrast with 
the rest. The previous glazing or oiling out may 
therefore be considered indispensable, before the 
more delicate work in question is commenced. The 
method is indeed recommended by Armenini, and 
was no doubt adopted by the Italian painters gene- 
rally. The retouchings on a dry surface, which 
the Venetians perhaps almost exclusively employed, 
were always bold, and are not to be confounded 
with the final scumblings and glazings above re- 
ferred to. The system of impinging sparkling 
lights, and even insulated darks, was rather a com- 
pletion of the abrupt, crisp preparation before the 
finer union of the parts was attended to. That 
finer union, with the Venetians, as with all other 
painters, Italian or Flemish, was, and can only be 
duly accomplished, so as to avoid the appeax'ance 
of labour on the one hand or spottiness on the 
other, by working on a moistened surface with finely 
ground tmts. It rests with the artist to use, in 
this stage of the work, jjn ordinary thin vehicle or 
an oil varnish with his tints ; for such literally alter- 
nate operations the Italians, and even the Vene- 
tians, frequently used the oil varnish. This, when 
employed profusely, as in Titian's St. Sebastian 
(Vatican), no doubt superseded the necessity of a 
final varnish, at least for many years. It appears 
probable that the oil varnish was then used abun- 


dantly in the last general glazings and scumblings 
in large altar pictures, which were to be sometimes 
exposed to damp, and at all events to great varie- 
ties of temperature in churches ; while, for works of 
less extent and intended for other situations, the 
surface, being less protected, (in consequence of a 
less robust vehicle having been used), immediately 
required the essential-oil varnish, which served to 
protect, as well as to bring out the colours. 


In painting it is safe to assume that till the dark- 
ness reaches the intensest degree, transparency 
increases with darkness. Wannth, therefore, in- 
creases with darkness, at least as long as any 
inward light is visible ; and, to avoid blackness in 
the deepest shades — to be " deep yet clear," it is 
still desirable that here and there points of warm 
reflected light, varying in extent of depth, should 
be visible. The transparency of deep shades is 
greatly assisted by the rich consistence of the 
vehicle; light being then reflected not from the 
lucid surface, but, however faintly, from witliin it. 
For rich darks it is always desirable to have a 
thick vehicle. This vehicle should be clear, but it 
need not be colourless. It should not be liable to 
crack. It should be also quick drying; because, 
if slow, the dust which unavoidably adheres to 
the surface may affect the transparency of the 


shadows, and is, at all events, difficult to re- 
move. Thickened, or half-resinified oil, is well 
adapted for this purpose, but an oil already inspis- 
sated with a resin is, perhaps, preferable, as the 
paleness of the oil is, for the purpose in question, 
not so essential. The oil and sandarac varnish, 
"vernice liquida," if made according to the old 
receipts (3 parts oil to 1 of resin) is sufficiently 
thick. In order that the richness and lustre in the 
vehicle should be permanent, it is safer to use 
such an oil varnish instead of resins dissolved in 
essential oils only. The latter, useful as they are 
for some purposes, and however brilliant at first, 
have not the lasting clearness which is desirable 
in deep shadows. The defect of the oil varnishes, 
even when much thickened with resins, is their 
tendency to flow, but this, if less compatible with 
extreme sharpness of execution, is of less conse- 
quence in shadows and may be corrected in a great 
measure by the dryer. 

The internal light represented by a light ground, 
over which transparent colours are passed, may be 
renewed and reproduced (and can only be repro- 
duced) by the hottest orange-red colours. The 
"rouge de Mars,'* sometimes lightened by the scar- 
let Mars, together with the vermilions, and similar 
colours, is well adapted for this purpose, but it is 
essential that the colour should be impinged in its 
brightness and not smeared or rubbed, for, when 
so passed over a darker tint it will only make a 


heavy and even greyish colour. The best mode of 
securing its sparkle and brilliancy and, at the saine 
time, of producing that partial broken effect only 
of transparency which is so agreeable, is to apply 
it carefully with an (ivory) palette knife, the shape 
of which may be even adapted for minute as well 
as for large opemtions. The more solid, cooler, 
uuibcr-like hues of the shadows will thus acquire 
great effect, and still produce a balance of warm 
and cold tones. 

Some of Rembrandt's portrait backgrounds, 
though treated with scarcely any attention to form, 
and from the lowness of their tones presenting only 
an harmonious mass, are found, on inspection, to be 
full of a variety of hues ; the waimth, as usual, in- 
creasing with darkness and with light, the cool 
colours pervading the half-tints. Besides this variety 
of tones, there is a fascinating variety of another 
kind, produced by the various apparent depths 
which a thick diaphanous vehicle insures. Here 
and there the lighter portions are loaded, but, 
being again overlaid with the semi-liquid lucid 
medium, broken with transparent tints, the surface 
is sufficiently filled up. The absence of positive 
form which generally accompanies this harmonious 
obscurity in Rembrandt has the effect of increasing 
the impression of depth. The result, for the par- 
ticular end proix)sed, is perhaps more complete than 
in the works of any other painter, not excepting 
Correggio, although in his case the same principle 


and method are, to a great extent, observable. The 
peculiar practice of Rembrandt here alluded to has 
also the great recommendation of being a distinctive 
attribute of oil painting, and of ranking among 
those qualities which successfully imitate nature by 
means proper to one art and one method alone. 

Numerous examples might be selected from the 
works of Rembrandt where this most satisfactory 
union of truth and consummate art is attained. 
One of the most remarkable is in a portrait of an 
old lady exhibited at the British Institution in 1848, 
(the property of Mr. Jones Lloyd, now Lord Over- 
stone). The general tone of the low background 
harmonises perfectly with the head — at a moderate 
distance its depth appears to be nothingness — on 
a nearer inspection it is found to be full of vague 
forms, and a multitude of hues ; golden reflexions 
and even crimson points are relieved by varied tints 
of umber and toned greys. The surface is equally 
diversified, sometimes rougher and more solid, some- 
times evanescent — the degrees of depth seem infi- 
nite. The mysterious forms look like the stalactites 
of a grotto, but whether intended for them, for the 
fringe of draperies, or for the indistinct forms of 
architecture, it is impossible to say. 

The richer portions of this picture are probably 
painted with such a vehicle as the " vemice liquida " 
in all its original thickness, rendered sufficiently dry- 
ing. There is scarcely any sharpness in any part of 
the work, yet a gradation in this respect is preserved. 


The quantity of vehicle used by such a painter as 
Rembrandt in such effects is scarcely conceivable 
by modem artists ; but it is plain, from an inspec- 
tion of many of Reynolds' works, that the founder 
of the English school very commonly aimed at this 
method. He sought to give the requisite body, 
combined with more or less transparency, by means 
of wax very copiously used, and with what unfor- 
tunate results his pictures often tell. 

It does not appear likely that Rembrandt used 
wax. His scholar, Hoogstraten, who describes the 
technical habits of the time so fully, would probably 
have noticed this had it been common. 

To return to the portrait referred to : it is plain, 
from the sharp, arrested, unmixing touch in the 
head, that the flowing vehicle was exchanged in 
this case for an essential-oil varnish, mixed in due 
quantity with the colours ground in oil.* No other 
vehicle of the oleaginous kind produces this un- 
mixing, abrupt, unflowing appearance more com- 
pletely. But the flowing quality can be no objection 
to a glazing vehicle, and it is therefore probable that, 
except where a rapidly drying surface was wanted, 
the transparent glazings were in all cases applied 
with an oleo-resinous, and more or less thick me- 
dium. For the lights, the purest bleached oil, with 
mastic or even with fir-resin, would be preferable 
to the dark " vemice liquida," and the dryer might 

* See Mansaert ; compare De Piles. 


be sugar of lead, in moderate quantity, instead of 
gold size. 

The preparation of the lights in Rembrandt's 
heads appears to have been often cool, and the 
quick-drying, broken, and arrested masses and 
touches that are applied on it, leave the cool tints 
of various degrees of darkness half visible at edges 
and uncovered dragged portions, as it were, through 

It was important to cover the whole surface as 
much as possible at one painting, so as to insure 
sufficient union of the tints with all their occasional 
abruptness; when the surface was quite dry a 
slight application of thin and quick-drying varnish 
would answer the same end if covered at the right 

The flowing of the touch in consequence of using 
the oleo-resinous vehicle in the shadows may be 
corrected by implanting the last dark, sharper lines 
and touches when the thick transparent lucid shades 
are nearly dry ; the touch then remains in its place. 

As in the rich shadows the warm ground may 
be reproduced or represented at any stage, so the 
cool under-painting in the lights may be renewed at 
pleasure with a view to superadding warmer tints 
upon it. The transparent tintings last added, as 
in the more vivid hues of the flesh, had still better 
be introduced on a surface not quite dry: a thin 
application of varnish is one mode of contriving 
this, but such touches may also be added in the 


final glaze or even before, on a dry surface, pro- 
vided it is not too glossy to receive them. 

It remains to observe that, as warmth increases 
with transparency and consequently with darkness, 
a picture may be richly coloured without any posi- 
tive colours (since the richest hues on a low scale 
do not tell as such). Gilbert S. Newton, who had 
a fine eye for colour, was remarkable for selecting 
neutral colours for his dresses, while, like Gains- 
borough, he gave an impression of richness by 
avoiding coldness, blackness, and opacity in all his 
darks — even in dark blue skies. The shadows of 
trees may thus be warm; the shadows even of 
white or grey architecture are painted by Rubens 
and Vandyck with the richest tiwisparent browns. 
The colourists took care of the darks, and left the 
lights to take care of themselves. 

One consequence of this system, however, is, that 
the lights can never consist of '' sickly white " — they 
must be toned, though comparatively colourless. 
Another consequence is that the picture can never 
be " poor." Depth of shadows supposes richness of 
vehicle, and the quality of the lights must sustain 
this. There is, however, a diflference between the 
richness and depth of the two. The character of 
Rembrandt's lights is that transparency is attained 
not by thin paintings, but by half seeing what is 
beneath, between, or beside solid touches: sharp- 
ness and brokenness of touch is attained by a 
rapidly drying vehicle (mixing a portion of essen- 


tial'Oil varnish with the tints). The transparency 
of his shadows is quite diflferent — the diaphanous 
effect is more simple ; that is, tints are seen as if 
through a glass, and the operation of glazing is 
more general — the use of a thick oil varnish is also 
not compatible with much sharpness. 

As Corelli and other musicians are said to have 
composed their bass first, so the Flemish and Dutch 
colourists painted their rich shadows first : a flesh- 
coloured ground being supposed, the outline defined 
(whether upon or underneath it matters little), and 
the glowing and brown shadows inserted, it is im- 
possible for the lights to be crude, though they may 
be comparatively neutral — it is also probable that 
they will be boldly impasted and freely handled. 
When the lights are inserted first, (before the sha- 
dows), they are almost sure to be too light, and the 
consequence is that the key is always changing as 
the darks become increased. It is therefore on 
every account better to establish the maximum of 
darkness and richness at once somewhere^ as a guide 
to the eye. 


When many colours are mixed together, their 
effect can only be clear by being so thinly spread 
as to show the light ground through them ; but, if 
a thick system of painting be adopted, it is a great 
object to avoid a clayey mixture of the colours. 
This has been attained by colourists in various 


ways. One mode is to use few colours at a time, 
because then they may be mixed without restraint. 
This mode was often adopted by the early Italian 
masters, and by Reynolds — ^it consisted in painting 
at first chiefly for form and chiaroscuro, with a hint 
only at the ultimate colour. The work might be 
of any degree of solidity, but, even in this process, 
the shadows can, if desired, be left without body, 
BO as to show the ground through them. The more 
ordinaiy process was, however, to paint lights and 
shadows with an almost equal body, the shadows 
being kept light, comparatively cool, and clear. 
This preparation, when dry, was then rendered fit 
for a new application of colour, by a very thin ra- 
pidly drying varnish — a spirit alone, or (as some 
preferred) a thin coat of oil, which was carefully 
wiped off again, leaving the surface scarcely moist. 
The warm colours, still few in number, were then 
freely used ; transparent and rich tints being alone 
used in some shadows. Lastly, when again dry, 
the whole might be glazed, and not necessarily with 
one tint only. The harmony of the whole work 
would probably require a variety of tints — these, 
however, being transparent, would (with common 
precautions) no more affect the mere transparency 
of the work than the mixture of tints in water 
colour. The essential condition in glazing is that 
the superadded colour should always be darker, or, 
at least, quite as dark as the under-colour ; if not, 
a leaden opacity will be the result. 


Another method. Thick painting, with prepared 
tints, both warm and cold in great variety, but 
each mixed at first on the palette with a rapidly 
drying medium, so as to insure the comparative 
isolation of each touch, if desired. This is the 
method of Rembrandt in some of his finest works : 
in many, so painted, the shadows are still kept 
transparent, in others, their richness is insured by 
repeated but independent, and more or less un- 
mixing operations. One most agreeable conse- 
quence of this method is that tints, representing^ a 
cool depth on which the superadded warm colours 
are impinged and which may be partially repro- 
duced at any time, dry soon enough and sufficiently 
to prevent the clayey immixture of the impinged 
tints ; and not only is this efifect produced, but the 
superadded touch does not melt into the tint under- 
neath, but finishes abruptly with a more or less 
broken, ragged edge, which, by a contrast of mere 
texture, independent of the difference of hue, is 
thus sharply distinguished from the bed on which 
it is impinged, and, aided by the difference of hue 
(the under-colour being generally of a retiring na- 
ture) seems suspended in air, and conveys the idea 
of depth — the in-and-in look — which is the great 
charm of the master-works of oil painting, in the 
liveliest manner. Sir George Beaumont, whose pre- 
cepts and taste were chiefly derived from Reynolds, 
used to say that " transparency does not necessa- 
rily mean effects produced by literally transparent 


colours, but generally by seeing one thing within 
or partly within another." 

In Rembrandfs works of the class referred to, 
the mere material application of the tints — (so dis- 
tinct that the order of their application by the 
partial exhibition of what is underneath or behind 
them may be seen) — expresses the quality of depth, 
and closely resembles the peculiar semi-transparent 
effect of some stones — such as the agate — a com- 
parison which Sir David Wilkie often made. There 
can be no doubt that these effects in pictures, when 
seen near, are more transparent than flesh, but, 
at a due 'distance, the imitation is perfect. In this 
finest of all exaggerations, the principle is the same 
as that of the extreme richness of colouring, and 
especially of the shadows, adopted (more especially 
in large pictures) by the great masters ; the effect 
of air and the imperfection of vision soon reduce 
the darker glowing tints to the just truth of nature ; 
whereas, when the truth is only literally rendered 
in a near view, the shadows appear opaque and 
black at a very moderate distance. 

As regards the vehicles which may be used to 
insure this rapid drying, the first condition is that 
after extracting from the colours the excess of oil 
in which they were ground, the drjdng and more or 
less resinous vehicle should be mixed in due, and (as 
regards the darks) in varying proportions with all 
the tints. 

DEPTH. 353 



The principle of depth, which is peculiar to oil 
painting, depends, in a great measure, on our being 
aware of a transparent medium. Colour may be 
seen through colour in the thinnest oil painting, or 
in water-colour painting, and great beauty of com- 
bined, yet unmixed, hues may be the result. 

But the impression of depth here dwelt on, is 
that which we experience in looking at a gem set 
on a bright ground. Its colour is not only enhanced 
by the light shining through it from within, but 
the eye is conscious of the existence of the trans- 
parent medium — is conscious that its outer and 
inner surfaces are distinct. We have this impression 
even when the medium is colourless, as in looking 
at any object under crystal, or under clear water ; 
however pure the medium there is always enough 
to mark its presence, and the objects seen through 
it have, more or less, the quality of depth. 

Perhaps the word tone (so often confounded with 
tint) might be partly defined as the appearance of 
one hue within another, when the medium is also 
appreciable. The higher qualities of tone reside 
in the harmonious relation of hues in depth — an 
effect greatly attainable even where the medium is 
not distinctly visible — but the perfection of such 
qualities undoubtedly depends on that positive and 



actual measure of the " within and without " which 
a rich medium affords. 


The shine (suppose of ordinary daylight) on red 
morocco, appears to be the colour of the light only, 
without any admixture of that of the object — the 
cool, whitish, silver lights form an exquisite con- 
trast to the toned, red lake depths, and would be 
agreeable in separate objects placed next each other 
(the same perhaps is true of all shirks as contrasted 
with the local colour on which they appear). The 
whitish light which, on polished surfaces, is merely 
the image of the light, had better be produced (not 
merely by white, but) by the depth of white, (found, 
ut scis) on a very light scale — that is, heightened 
with white. It will thus always partake more or 
less of a purplish hue on yellow, brown, and black 
objects ; of a purely neutral, silvery tint on bright 
red objects, and of a relatively warm mellow colour 
on blue, and green, and purple objects. 

The tendency of the shine to a purplish hue is 
very apparent on warm objects, (for instance, on 
old polished or varnished oak) not in the highest 
lights, but where the shine is scarcely perceptible — 
at the edge or subsidence of such lights — as where 
they die away on polished mouldings ; in such cases 
the more delicate the light, the purpler it becomes 
— as if the object were veiy thinly scumbled with 
semi-opaque light. 



Oil painting as a distinct method cannot be said 
to exist till the medium used produces that in-and- 
in look which is unattainable in any other mode or 
material. The quality of depth is to be sought 
even in solid, light, opaque objects, and can only 
be expressed in them (as in the darks) by exhibit- 
ing varieties of tone and light, suspended, as it 
were, in the substance or thickness of the vehicle. 
The difference between the treatment of the lights 
and darks, in this system of lucid, but substantial 
vehicles, is, that in the lights the surface may 
always be more or less marked, whereas in the 
darks the surface should never be visible. This 
has nothing to do with the actual surface or projec- 
tion of vehicle, (which may be considerable with- 
out being visible, in a proper light,) but with the 
apparent surface — ^that which is intended to be 
seen when the picture is in a proper light. 


A man's head of the ordinary complexion seen at 
a certain distance in the unpronounced light and 
shade of the open air, or of a room with more than 
one window, or with a diffused light, exhibits that 
appearance which Leonardo da Vinci somewhere 
describes, and which is common in Venetian pic- 
tures. The effect of the minuter shades or dark 

• The blocking out of the masses of light and shade. — Ed. 

A A 2 


coloui's (of eyes, brows, beard, &c.) is, as Leonardo 
observes, to colour the whole mass — ^to make it 
darker and warmer. The darker side of the face 
(the light being assumed to predominate on one 
side) has, seen at such a distance and under such 
circumstances, a browner hue only, and is hardly 
distinguishable from dark local colour on the light 
side. Barry (the painter) somewhere describes 
the shadow of Titian's flesh as ** flesh colour dark- 
ened and embrowned only." There is, however, a 
fine gradation both in light and dark, (more per- 
haps in light) ; the retiring parts of the face, as 
for instance the side of the cheek and temple, 
without losing their broad warmth of colour, are 
less illumined than the cheekbone, and the fore- 
head is often the same ; the nose again, even in fair 
subjects, looks darker, partly because surrounded 
with darks, and partly because its minute lights (at 
the point and on the bridge) become invisible, as 
Leonardo truly observes, at a little distance. There 
is also no shine on dark hair at a certain distance. 
This distant, broad, shadowy effect is most agree- 
able when the surface in painting is not too trans- 
parent and glossy, but rather mealy. This effect 
is produced by using, where possible, semi-opaque 
colours (always darker than the colour on which they 
are scumbled) in tinting, toning, and darkening. 
The same appearance is to be aimed at in golden 
complexions ; they should not look too glassy and 
glossy, but have a due opacity. This may be ex- 


tended even to half-shadows. In this is seen one 
great difference between the Venetian and Flemish 
masters ; the Flemish painters can never have too 
much transparency, and they certainly manage it 
well ; but the Venetians with equal, or with scarcely 
less splendour, have more solidity, and yet their 
system, in its shadowy breadth, agrees more with 
ideal and somewhat distantly seen forms. 


The Venetian process was divided into the blot- 
ting of the masses, solid painting, sharp touching, 
(colpeggiare)^ scumbling, and glazing. The chief 
requisite in this system — indeed in oil painting 
generally — ^is to restrict the touch to solid painting 
or to minute shadows, and never to show a small 
handling in scumbling, that is, when the paint is 
thin. Minute work with solid paint soon cures 
itself; the touch soon becomes bold and varied, but 
it is not so easily avoided with thin paint. Such 
thin scumbling should always be swept in masses, 
otherwise it will degenerate to stippling. (See pic- 
tures by Buonvicino (Moretto) as an example of 
the touch — small yet solid, sparkling and vivid.) 

The bright minute touches of an unglazed Vene- 
tian picture must have appeared quite raw, and 
almost snow tipped — ^glazing was indispensable to 
lower and harmonise the work. Looking, however, 
to such a final process, the bright touches might 


be most sparkling. It is a mistake to aim at this 
harmony too soon ; the attempt leads to want of 
vigour in handling, want of light, and ultimate flat- 
ness and dullness. Boschini observes that Titian's 
pictures were gemmed all over during the work, 
and no doubt just before they were completed by 


If Bellini used the amber varnish, (or its substi- 
tute, "vernice liquida") with the colours, as this is 
apt to clog them, it is quite reasonable to suppose 
that he would, like painters now using the same 
material, dilute the pigments, so thickened, with 
oil. Hence the story of Ridolfi, though told with 
another and a mistaken view — ^viz., in the belief 
that oil was only then recently introduced in paint- 
ing — ^may, after all, be a true tradition. 

It is to be remembered that, with the early oil 
painters, essential oils had no place together with 
fixed-oil varnishes ; the two might be used sepa- 
rately — the essential oils were perhaps used by 
Leonardo da Vinci in his solid preparations, but 
never to thin the oil varnishes. Their diluent was 
necessarily a fixed oil, 

Ridolfi's account of Schiavone's preparing his 
tints some days before they were used, is interest- 
ing, and agrees with the fat, cloggy look of his 


colour. His touch seems brisk by dint of force and 
firm brushes. It is, however, not impossible that 
he may have used amber varnish or its equivalent, 
in the manner of Correggio, only without blend- 
ing the tints. He studied and used the designs 
of Parmigianino, and hence a possible connection 
with a Correggiesque practice. 

It is very probable from the appearance of Baroc- 
cio's surface and handling, that he used the amber 

The circumstance of Gentileschi, at a later period, 
inheriting this practice may be traced to a con- 
nection with the schools of Parma. 


Zanetti marks the improvement of the early Vene- 
tian school in colour, by the observation ' fece piii 
rosseggiare il contomo.' The outlines of the 
earliest painters were black. The efifect of a 
warm outline to indicate flesh, even though the 
rest be white, is visible in some ancient mosaics 
in the vestibule of St. Mark's at Venice. The 
next step, or an extension of the principle, was 
the warming of the shadows, especially when 
small in quantity — the use of the blood tint. 
The reverse of these methods would be to make 
the centre of the flesh the warmest, and to allow 
it to grow colder towards the outlines and shades. 
The finer, broader principle consisted in kindling 


the form at its boundaries and in its depths, and 
letting the centre take care of itself — for it would 
necessarily be cooler than the darker parts. 

When the system of preparing a cool under- 
painting was introduced, (by the Bellini and their 
followers,) the warm glazings began in the darks, 
then toned the half-lights, and, lastly, tinted the 
lights. But, when all was tinted, the breadth of 
colour was sustained by keeping the focus in the 
darks. One consequence of this system was that 
the cheeks could not be much coloured — ^a general 
glow was rather attempted, for the colour being 
given in the shadow, contrast required that it 
should be less strong in the light. Ludovico 
Dolce, noticing this as the practice of Titian, gives 
a reason for it in his own way. It might be ob- 
served that the Venetians in adopting this system 
only copied the nature which they saw: if so, it 
must be concluded that Nature in Italy suggests 
a higher style of colour than elsewhere. The warm 
glazings (always semi-opaque in the lights and half- 
lights, though perfectly transparent in deepest 
shades) were even suppressed in a great measure 
by some Venetians in the lights ; the effect was to 
give a certain effect of transparency, as if the skin 
were thin. (For, if we suppose a column of glass, 
we shall see the colour crowded towards the edges, 
and less strong in the centre; the colour is, as it 
were, accumulated in the foreshortened parts.) 
This effect had also, in heads, its use in expression. 


Zanetti speaks of "certi lividi," introduced by 
Basaiti. These " lividi " were merely parts less co- 
vered with the warm tintings, such warmth being 
suffered rather to accumulate in the darker, and less 
prominent portions. The coloured (not reddened) 
features, and paler cheeks of Basaiti's saints give 
them a look of passion and emotion, not to be ren- 
dered in an engraving. 

The system easily degenerates into foxiness. 
Paduanino is often an instance of the abuse. The 
warm brown shadows (as opposed to Paduanino's 
red) in Titian — for example, in hands and feet — 
contrast agreeably with cool lights and middle 


In the grey depth of white, the yellow ingredient 
(represented, we suppose, by raw umber,) requires 
to be very sparingly used, especially when the tint 
is employed in scumbling over a light, since all 
colours are warmer in effect when light is within 

For the blue element, black is sometimes not 
sufficiently delicate ; a blue, however small in 
quantity, is requisite, and the colour should even 
be fine of its kind — the French ultramarine would 
be preferable to common blues. It is quite possible 
to do without black, in which case, of course, the 


yellow and red ingredients must be increased to 
neutralise the blue. For the red, Indian red is 
commonly used and may suffice, but the purple 
reds, either of iron or madder, may be employed 
with advantage. For the lights, the yellow element 
should slightly predominate, and the deeper shades 
should be brown — so, in black objects, the deepest 
parts may sometimes be brown. 

The effect of lightening a shadow by scumbling 
or dragging a lighter tint over it, is to make it 
colder as well as less dark (light over dark is cold). 
As every colour contains all the colours, on the 
principles before explained, and as the blue tendency 
is in excess in the case supposed, the tint employed 
to correct it should have as much of the orange as 
the nature of the ingredients (used in the local 
colour) permits. If again the bluish tint (suppose 
in a rose drapery) has been glazed with lake, as it 
will evidently be too purple for the local colour, 
the correcting (and perhaps lightening) tint should 
then incline to yellow. Once neutralised and har- 
monised, the usual cool half-tints, and coloured 
depths can again be inserted if required. 


All vivid warm colours, and spots of any such 
colour in a larger mass, when toned, and reduced 
by brown, are not only more harmonious and 


agreeable, but appear to have their actual hues 
deepened. The reason may be that such toning 
partakes of the nature of shade, and the colour is 
not so much altered as deepened — ^though slightly 

Cold colours that are too crude, are, when toned 
Math brown, equally true and deep. In this case the 
colour would seem to be opposed by the toning — 
but the effect is quite as satisfactory, perhaps more 
so than in the case of warm crude colours that are 

All colours that are crude from whiteness, or 
lightness, are improved in like manner by a toning 

The silvery depths of white even are made 
more telling by a golden browning, near, and more 
or less upon them. [The sparkling quality is in- 
dispensable in white and in flesh, and, in general, 
in all light objects — ^the delicate half-tints are re- 
vealed and multiplied by such treatment, which, 
however, is not to be confounded with the imi- 
tation of shine. The sparkling quality depends on 
(relative) brightness, sharpness and crispness, and 
ultimate tone, for such a quality is more precious 
and is even increased really by the glazing, as the 
points of brightness are less obscured than some of 
the surrounding portions.] 

The toning brown should be used everywhere to 
mitigate crudeness, even in partial tints (that may 
be too vivid) and spots — ^for where, on a very light 


scale, the toning is proportioned — not only in 
draperies, skies, landscape and inanimate objects, 
but even in flesh. 

The general distribution of light and dark, and 
the modelling in aU details should, however, be 
completed before, as very little modelling can be 
safely effected by toning — the attempt may end in 


The contrast between the delicacy of scumbling — a 
delicacy consisting in extreme fineness of tint (by 
means of semi-transparency) as well as in extreme 
softness — the contrast between this, and the crisp 
roughness of lights, against which it stops — ^is of a 
most agreeable kind. Suddenness of form, texture, 
or colour in nature, is best imitated by such means. 
A rough (roughly painted) isolated small cloud, 
(light or dark) in the midst of a formless space — 
formless, but full of gradation of light and tint, and 
without apparent substance — expresses this pecu- 
liar contrast; like a rock in smooth water. The 
same effect may be sometimes seen in Titian's flesh ; 
smooth, or apparently smooth depths of half-light 
lie round a rugged crisp light. The beauty of 
scumbling is not displayed unless it float round 
such sharp, rugged substance. The roughness and 
brokenness of such points and touches may be 


assisted by ground glass used as a pigment — ^it is 
always shorty even when used (not too liquid) with 
an oil varnish, or wax medium. The roughness 
may also be assisted, where required, by the pul- 
verised colour itself, (dry on an adhesive surface) 
or by ground glass, or ground resin, or even by 
ashes, so applied. 


A MOISTENED surfacc is almost indispensable for 
delicate and partial scumblings, but modellings 
produced by comparatively abrupt retouchings 
may be added at any time on a dry surface. The 
two methods are most convenient in finishing. 
Under the first are comprehended the accidents 
produced not only by dark over light, but by light 
over dark; the latter producing pearly tints not to 
be attained by solid painting. The other mode (the 
retouching) is more akin to solid painting, and may 
be a means of regaining sharpness and abruptness, 
which the scumbling system has, of course, a ten- 
dency to destroy. In beginning a work, solidity and 
freedom should be especial objects, as they cannot be 
so well attained after the work is completed. In 
order not to get too white, the whole should be 
scumbled, and re-scumbled from time to time with 
the local tint, or with the warm or cool corrections 
which may be required (white being generally suffi- 
cient for the latter). Then the modelling may 


recommence, and be gradually carried to the deli- 
cacies of form. In order to secure apparent freedona 
and sharpness, those passages should be looked for 
which admit of an abrupt insertion of light — ^for in 
half-lights this abruptness is not so agreeable. Cast 
shadows may also be abrupt and free. Again, in 
most other objects, (besides the flesh) this abrupt- 
ness and solidity may be easily secured. 

Thin scumblings with a vehicle (or with the 
mere colour) much diluted with spike oil or other 
essential oil, will not become homy, but, on the other 
hand, they may easily be washed ofl^, and therefore 
require to he fixed with a varnish of some sort. An 
oil varnish, or mere half-resinified oil, may be used 
in this case — an essential-oil varnish is in danger of 
removing the tints unless the surff^ce be first pro- 
tected with a thin glutinous film. For example, a 
wash of heer fixes the surface sufficiently to bear a 
varnish. A thicker glutinous medium is not advi- 
sable, as it is apt to become white with the varnish. 
On the whole, perhaps, on oil varnish is safest for 
recently painted pictures. 


For the"sfumato" system, and the production of 
pearly tints by light over dark, a crisp and solid 
under-painting is indispensable. It is undoubtedly 
possible to give this appearance (as the Venetians, 


according to Boschini, sometimeB seem to have done, 
even after a solid beginning) at last, or when the 
work is advanced, and everything is in its place ; 
but there is danger of some reluctance at that 
stage to disturb the efffect, and to risk losing what 
has been attained in expression. But anything is 
better than ivory smoothness; sufficient crispness 
and ruggedness for glazing can, at all events, be 
secured ; only remembering that what is soft, will 
be still softer by glazing. 

Reynolds says that Titian's chief care was " to 
express the local colour, to preserve the masses 
of light and shade, and to give, by contrast, the 
idea of that solidity which is inseparable from na- 
tural objects." The preservation of masses of light 
and shade is one of the merits of the Venetian colour- 
ists, and it is difficult to understand how such a 
school can be said to be deficient in chiaroscuro. 
The suppression, or slight indication of markings 
in the light, gradually led to the suppression of dark 
shades in the flesh altogether, and, as if this was not 
enough, we frequently find a very light blond hair 
added. (The features, however, always tell.) The 
whole is then relieved by a strong and broad con- 
trast of dark and sometimes cold masses, according 
to the tint of the flesh and drapery ; the light, golden 
flesh is also sometimes accompanied by a white 
dress, and then the whole figure (with a few points of 
dark) is relieved againstthe equally massed ground.* 

♦ Compare Zanetti, p. 218. 


It is in securing, (before toning,) the breadth 
of light in the flesh, that the scumbling system, 
or alternate scumbling and modelling, may beget 
too much smoothness, softness, and finish ; all 
which will be still more undecided when glazing 
is added. It is therefore very necessary to keep, or 
renew, crisp lights; taking care to have as many 
abrupt passages as possible — (abrupt, that is, as 
to texture). These should be carefully kept, as 
softness will take care of itself. The equality, or 
unbrokenness of intermediate passages of half-light, 
which may look unpleasantly finished in surface, 
will be sure to receive accidents from glazing. The 
point is to secure sufficient sharpness where sharp- 
ness shoidd be. 

This variety of mere surface can be greatly as- 
sisted by the vehicle, which of itself supplies sub- 
stance, and does not obstruct crispness. A sparkling 
quality is one of the sources of brilliancy, and delicate 
modelling, in fine Venetian pictures. This is some- 
times produced by beating, or stabbing, with the 
brush with white — (what is called in the Venetian 
dialect "botizar") — and the same process, over a 
solid preparation, helps to give that equally granu- 
lated and mossy texture which is often observable 
both in flesh and draperies. But, it should always 
be remembered that such processes are only agree- 
able when superadded to a rougher, and more 
" colpeggiato " (touched) preparation. With re- 
gard to the more delicate sparkle which assists the 


finest modelling and the niceties of expression, its 
eflFect may be first tried by irregularly dotting, 
Tnth white chalk, on the points or surfaces where 
its effect is desired. This same effect, when agree- 
able, can be produced by inserting — ^no matter 
whether accidentally or with intention, (provided 
the result be irregular) the same sparkle with 
points of white. An old worn brush is useful for 
the purpose. In such cases it is important that 
the points, or minute touches of white, should be 
solid. Their too great brilliancy can be obviated 
either by tinting upon them to a certain extent 
when dry ; or by using much stiff vehicle, and coun- 
teracting its yellowing, as usual, by the purplish 
hue of the superadded light — ^but pure white may 
be used in this way also, and tinted afterwards. 
Thin^ partial, and minute tintings of white, though 
useful in equalising and solidifying, and in distri- 
buting minute greys (as they are always employed 
to stop out relative darks) are not calculated for the 
sparkling process; that can only be produced by 
solid, diamond-like, but irregular, and irregularly 
placed points and touches. 

The "botizar" system is almost indispensable for 
producing breadth, without too much sacrificing 
modelling. Its equality, union, and finish, and its 
imperceptible gradations require to be sufficiently 
broken, either by the abruptness of the preparation, 
or by superadded sharpness, cnspness, and definite 
sparkle. One mode of breaking its soft transitions, 



IB by spottiness of local colour; for it should be 
remembered that whatever reason there may be, (in 
young subjects) for unbroken roundness, there is 
no such reason for softening colour, as in the cheeks 
or elsewhere : the more patchy and abrupt this can 
be, consistently with truth and the appearance of 
health, the better will it contrast with the soft 
gradations of the lights and half-tints. This is one 
of the points in which Titian is superior to Palma 
Vecchio. Paul Veronese never fails in it, nor in 
anything that belongs to briskness, or vivacity of 


To give full eflfect to the glazing system (especially 
with the old substantial vehicle) it is necessary 
that the preparation should be more or less solid, 
BJid freely handled. In Bassan the lights on flesh 
and other objects were sometimes impinged with 
much of the local colour in an advanced state of the 
work, and after aU had been laid in in chiaroscuro 
and glazed. In this way it is always possible to 
prevent a wooUy effect, and to restore something of 
a sparkling appearance by inserting bright rough 
touches, and toning them afterwards. Schiavone 
is a great master in all that relates to colour, bril- 
liancy, and vivacity of execution. 

The glazing system (the thick vehicle being 
always underetood to be used) has various condi- 


tions, some relating to colour, some to surface and 
texture, some to chiaroscuro. 

In colour the first principle of the glazing system 
is warmth, and the second broken hues. 

The neutrality which the latter seems to involve 
(as distinguished from positive and gaudy colour- 
ing) is still made compatible with warmth by con- 
triving that the cold colours shall be neutralised by 
warm ones, and the (too) warm and positive by 
cool or neutral, rather than by cold hues. 

In this system of neutralising and breaking, the 
application of the exactly opposite (transparent) 
tints is to be attended to, and as the preparation 
does not consist of one uniform tint but of cool 
half-lights of reddish, greenish, bluish, purplish, 
&c., so the superadded tonings should be varied 
constantly to antagonise the under-painting. We 
thus find in draperies of Venetian pictures a name- 
less colour produced, although we might easily call 
it red, rose-colour, &c. — the bluest tints are toned 
with orange, the greenish with lake, the violently 
red not with a positive green but with an olive, 
umbry colour; orange the same, the olive inclining 
more to grey. Blue is toned with rich brown 
(dark orange) slightly, and has the same warm 
colour both for its intense darks and, on a light 
scale, for its lights. 

In general, the colour which should be used to 
neutralise another, is that of the high light and 
shadow of the colour to be .neutralised. Thus 

B B 2 


a vivid, crude blue is toned by its opposite, a rich 
brown, (the depth or darkness of the brown de- 
pending of course on the tint of the blue which it 
duly balances); a rich transparent brown might 
be the shadow of this blue, and wliite, a little em- 
browned or gilded, would be the true light. A vivid 
and crude green is toned by a reddish brown — that 
same colour in its deep transparent state is the fit 
shadow for the green, and white, embrowned or 
reddened, would be the true light. The bluer the 
green the more the light would incline to orange, 
but it is to be remembered that two positive or 
strong colours can hardly come together — ^when 
the green is strong, the light is comparatively 
colourless. The opposite of orange is strictly blue, 
but, on the same principle, as the orange is strong 
and positive the opposite should be comparatively 
neutral, a dusky, greyish, umbry tint is the fittest 
depth for orange. Blue is strictly a half-tint, not 
a shade-tint, the opposite, of course, is therefore to 
be recognised in its half-tints, which are sometimes 
in Venetian pictures of the neutral character above 
described. The reflex shadows of all colours are 
warm ; and the lights of orange are not its opposite, 
but only lesser degrees of orange — that is, yellow. 
So with regard to yellow — ^its opposite, purple, 
belongs neither to the shade nor to the light, but 
only to the half-light, and there requires not to be 
positive, but rather to be a greyish depth. Its 
lights are only lesser degrees of yellow. 


So with regard to red — its opposite, green, belongs 
neither to the shade nor to the light, but only to 
the half-light. The neutral half-light of red is as 
usual not positive, but is rather an uinbry depth. 

The opposite of a positive colour is a negative 
one, but which is still opposite in the quality of 
tint also. 











neutral grejf 

warmish white. 

The opposite of bright red is pearl colour 

„ bright orange is grey 

„ bright yellow is purplish grey , 

,y bright green is reddish brown 

„ purple is yellow brown 

,, blue is orange brown 
The opposite of the warm colours is in their half-lights. 
„ „ „ „ cold colours is in their shadows and lights. 

The lights and shadows of warm colours diflfer 
from those colours only in degree. 


The surface of the living figure is the most noble 
object of imitation, and it is this which chiefly limits 
sculpture to the naked. Life being the fittest aim 
of represeirtation, it becomes so also, in some form 
or mode, in inanimate objects. In sculpture, where 
colour is wanting, the drapery for example is often 
made to cling to the forms, in order that it may 
derive from them an interest which the mere ex- 
pression of folds cannot possess intrinsically. Be- 
sides this, drapery, even when not showing so 
distinctly the forms of the nude, may assist com- 


position, and may be grand or beautiful in itself 
from the arrangement of its lines. But it is in 
painting, and when the charm of colour is added, 
that an attribute allied to life may be given to 
drapery, and to all inanimate objects, independently 
of their forms. The contrasts of warmth and cool- 
ness, of transparency and opacity, of pure and 
negative hu^s — contrasts, in short, of all kinds 
which the eye can appreciate, besides those con- 
nected with mere form — ^these form the life of 
nature, and give interest and beauty to objects that 
would be otherwise passed over. As painting can- 
not do without such objects, and as they make up 
a large portion of every picture — from skies and 
clouds to trees, rocks, and foreground ; from drape- 
ries and architecture to all kinds of artificial pro- 
ductions and implements — these inanimate portions 
of a picture should receive the especial attention of 
the artist to endow them with life. Light, grada- 
tion, and contrast are the means by which this may 
be effected, but within these words lies the whole 
soul of refined imitation. The infinite modes in 
which inanimate objects are rendered charming to 
the eye, by the means here indicated, can only be 
studied in well-coloured pictures. Contrast of 
colour is the chief agent: gradation is, strictly 
speaking, only a subdivision of contrast, for, as the 
object of contrast is variety, so no contrasts should 
be repeated ; and this suggests degrees of intensity 
— varieties in degree as well as in kind. 




The expression of alternate sharpness and softness 
in the boundaries of forms, (whether forms of sub- 
stance, of light, or of colour,) is indispensable to 
truth of imitation in painting, and by whatever 
mode this peculiar contrast is attcuned, it can hardly 
fail to insure a picturesque and apparently free 
execution. An enlightened friend of Reynolds, 
Sir George Beaumont, often heard that great 
colourist say that accidental appearances in nature 
had better be produced by accidental operations. 
The same amateur was of opinion that the success 
of water-colour painters in skies was greatly owing 
to the unavoidable rapidity and uncontrolled free- 
dom with which the forms of their clouds were 
produced. Be this as it may, there can be no 
doubt that not only certain forms of material things, 
but the fimtastic shapes of masses and accidents ol 
light, the capricious patches and breakings of colour 
on various surfaces, and the gemlike and irregular 
crispness of brilliant lights are all better rendered 
by methods which may be said to be, at least partly, 
accidental ; and it is indeed only when accident is 
thus called in to imitate accident, that the infinite 
variety of nature can be said to be approached. 

At the same time- all depends on a right use of 
this principle. Nothing can be more seemingly at 
variance with such a proposed mode of imitation 
than the scientific studies and careful practice which 


aim at distinct appearances and immutable fects. 
The knowledge of anatomy and of beauty of form 
in the human figure and in animals, for instance, 
are referable to fixed laws; and the artist in such 
studies professes to define the types of excellence. 
It is one of the difficulties and privileges of painting 
that the most apparently opposite aims may, and 
must at different times, regulate its practice ; the 
unprejudiced artist has, in short, to know and feel 
when the precision of science is to be his guide, 
and when that precision would endanger the very 
truth of imitation which he proposes. 

Without entering further into the question what 
should, and what should not be the objects of pre- 
cision, (the living form being admitted to stand 
pre-eminent among the recognised and definite 
objects,) it is to be remarked that whatever may 
be the degree of precision which the boundaries 
of some objects require — and they can never 
require undeviating hardness or softness — an ir- 
regular crispness in the lights is never out of 
place, whether in flesh, armour, drapery, or sky. 
The question what degree of softness is necessary 
to balance that crispness has been variously an- 
swered, according to tiie taste of painters, and it 
must also depend on the distance at which the 
work is to be seen. All such questions of degree 
must necessarily be left undetermined. We have 
here only to speak of the operations or methods. 
Much may depend on mechanical contrivances, and 


on varying and contrasting the operations. For 
example, although the brush may, in a bold hand, 
be employed to produce a sharp, crisp and irre- 
gular handling, and although it must be considered 
an indispensable instrument to assist even this kind 
of execution, yet it is not so .entirely independent 
of the will as a harder instrument. In the peculiar 
practice here referred to, the brush may be consi- 
dered the instrument of softness, the palette knife 
of crispness and sharpness. The first may represent 
imperceptible gradation, the other the abrupt edge 
and point of a crystal sharpness ; the one typifies 
the cloud, the other the gem. By the palette knife is 
to be understood a very flexible ivory blade ; several 
such, varjdng in the breadth of their extremity 
from an inch to almost a point, may be used. Their 
flexibility at the point of course increases with use, 
by degrees the point wears away and becomes less 
regular, and is not the worse for being so. 

In all pictures there must be a scheme of light 
and dark, warm and cold. It is plain, there- 
fore, that the will of the artist should be most 
exercised in the largest scale, and least so in the 
smallest details. The same may be observed of 
forms ; their general proportions and true relation 
of masses are more important than the accuracy of 
minute parts. In the latter, freedom can do no 



In general it may be safe to assert that it is a 
defect for anything in a picture to be capable of 
being likened to another. Nothing is so charming 
as when things have their oum quality, and are like 
nothing but themselves : always remembering that 
of the many qualities of which one object may be 
composed or partake, such only will be most pro- 
minent which are forced into notice from existing 
comparisons. It may be observed, however, that 
in description things can only be presented to the 
mind's eye by resemblances, and, in this case, when 
the object is to exalt the particular thing, exagge- 
ration is allowable and necessary. Thus cheeks are 
like roses, clouds like gold, flesh like snow and 
vermilion, &c. In imitative art, where these sub- 
stances are addressed to the actual eye, they require 
to be distinguished from each other. Still, in the 
various modes in which nature may be rendered 
(according as the letter or the spirit is most aimed 
at, and above all according to the comparison or 
contrast of the moment), there will always be a 
resemblance between a painted imitation bs an 
effect, and some general quality in nature inde- 
pendent of, and in addition to, the particular imi- 
tation aimed at. The truth of this is admitted by 
the terms of praise, and still more by those of 
dispraise, used to characterize pictures. A picture, 
for instance, is said to be golden, to be silvery, to 


be gem-like — ^to be mossy, to be woolly, to be 
wooden, to be tinny, &c. Now if we consider the 
laudatory comparisons which relate either to the 
colom* or some collateral quality, we find that no 
quality comprehends such absolute and universal 
excellence as the gem-like. It comprehends the 
golden and the silvery, only adding the quality 
of transparency ; the pearly, the sparkling, the 
velvetty, the glittering, the pure, the definite, are 
all comprehended in the gemAike. What is or 
may be wanting is the solid which borders on the 
opaque, the soft which borders on the misty, the 
flexible or undulating, &c. The qualities which 
more particularly constitute the gem, and which 
may be aimed at in painting, are precision of 
leading forms, and sharpness soon lost in softness 
which may always insure a sufficient approach to 
the flexible ; this may be translated into precision of 
touch rather than of general form. The lights are 
the minimum of the colour, the deepest shades the 
maximum ; reflexions are infinite and bright, but 
only sparkling in points. The shades are trans- 
parent, but all is transparent ; and the character of 
the gem certainly is to be most lucid and clear in 
the lightest parts. This is Tintoret's system : his 
deep shades are often opaque and too black, but 
they are lighted up by sparks of brilliancy which, 
originally no doubt, gave transparency to the whole 
mass. Any colour, whether trunk of tree, rock, 
earth, or what not, may thus partake of the gem. 


The gi*eatest care should be to make the reflexiond 
sparkling and brilliant, for the lights will take care 
of themselves. A transparent substance exhibits 
its own colour, and reflects but little of others. 
To avoid too much monotony in a drapery, for 
instance, the hue may be varied ad infinitum if 
necessary by glazing variously, but still it will 
present but a series of gems, and not give the idea 
of an opaque substance reflecting foreign hues. 
Violent orange, vermilion, and all colours whose 
light is their maximum are not gem-like, but they 
give great value to those that are so. White can 
hardly be gem-like, unless the lights are treated 
with precision. Its cool shade is generally sur- 
rounded with a warm outline, for everything beyond 
it is probably warmer than itself. This warm out- 
line is agreeable even when coming on blue. Black 
is most gem-like when glazed on white, so as to 
have none but internal lights, and if any are on the 
surface, still precise and definite. Hair has a 
silken quality of its own which does not partake of 
the gem; it reflects the light (does not drink it 
like a jewel), but with as much of its own colour 
as possible. The purple lights on black hair give 
it a very opaque look. 

The same sort of resemblance in this good sense 
of the word (that is, a resemblance to something 
most perfect of its kind) may be aimed at in the 
choice of colours : various reds, for instance, are 
beautiful when they resemble the rose, the blood. 


the flame, the ruby : the colour of wine in a trans- 
parent glass is the same as the gem. (The Vene- 
tians loved to place it on a silvery white tablecloth. ) 
Yellow, the golden, the gem-Uke; blue, the sap- 
phire : the last is the most difficult colour to make 
brilliant, yet Titian does it. 


The spontaneous and effortless freedom of some 
painters, no doubt, belonged to their general charac- 
ter. The " mocking at toil," the " sprezzatura" of 
Giorgione — the "judicious strokes that supersede 
labour," are the surest test of genius and of the fit 
temperament for a painter; for such a power neces- 
sarily supposes the comprehension of a whole, a 
habit of viewing things in their largest relations. 
The idea of power is always conveyed when we 
have an impression that the actor, whatever he may 
be doing, .can or could do more than he actually 
does — ^that the strength shown is only a part of the 
strength that might be shown. This is true, even 
literally, in the wielding of the brush; -the line 
should be a part of a larger line ; the direction and 
impetus of the hand should not be limited- to th^ 
form or touch actually produced, but should have 
a larger sway. There can be no doubt that the 
evidence of this liberty and range of hand, eye, and 
mind (for all go together in legitimate freedom) is 
charming to the spectator. And this is not all, it 


is really more imitative ; the cramped and bounded 
is not nature. 

The rules of art can go far to correct that spirit- 
less stifihess which arises from equality of shapes 
and masses, from parallelism of lines and monotony 
of hues, indeed, if it were not so, tolerable works of 
art would be much rarer than they are. The ques- 
tion here proposed is how far mere freedom of hand, 
which is often a source of variety, especially in 
sur&ce and in sharpness and softness^ can be, and 
has sometimes been, assisted by judicious methods, 
and attainable in short by study. 

In painting, as in writing, it is undoubtedly true 
that the appearance of facility itself may be the 
result of labour. In writing, indeed, it is scarcely 
an object of ambition to have it believed that the 
work cofft little time and trouble. Few writers are 
seen to compose their works; the labour of months 
may be read in an hour, and may yet appear to 
have been produced by some powerful mind in as 
short a time. But when Addison was gently re- 
proved for writing a long answer to a letter, he 
replied, "I had not time to write a short ona" 
The appearance of power and facility would have 
cost him more trouble. To a greater extent it is 
the same in painting. It is the condition of the 
art to require a certain method. 

Let us examine the ordinary process of Rubens 
— one of the greatest masters of facility the world 
has seen. In order to secure the possibility of exe- 


cutiDg his work with apparent rapidity, and without 
torturing the colours as it is called, he defined 
everything in a coloured sketch, from which, as is 
well-known, his scholars " got in" the large picture. 
If it be asked what preceded his masterly sketch, 
it is replied designs on paper, studies from nature, 
and a careftd outline rarely departed from, even 
in that sketch. There was nothing of what is 
called Invention in his large picture. Not only 
the composition, but the masses of light and dark 
and colour were all determined, and the details of 
the drapery, architecture, &c., all sufficiently de- 
fined. There remained literally little but execu- 
tion to think of : the labour of covering the canvas 
with colours fitted for his ultimate effects was per- 
formed by others ; he was thus set free from the 
necessity of labour partly by the assistance of 
others, but chiefly by his own well directed pre- 
vious labour. If there was genius in such a man, 
it must be admitted that there was also admirable 
judgment, and that his judgment was shown in 
making the fairest occasions and freest scope for 
the display of his genius. " Divide, et impera," 
the motto of the Hero of the Nile, was exemplified 
in every picture by his hand. To invent, compose, 
draw, give gradations of light, and clothe with true 
colours, all at once, might have been done, if by 
any man, by Rubens. He adopted, however, the 
more cautious mode of giving his energies to each 
in turn, though each was prophetically viewed in 


relation to its neighbour quality. The whole effect 
was indeed already planned and embodied — gra- 
dually even then — in the sketch. Nothing remained 
for the last operation, but to think of beauties of 
execution and harmony. Had he laboured his 
work after all the previous steps (it matters not 
whether we consider the freest operations of the 
picture or the freest of the sketch, for both were re- 
sults), there would have been no consistent principle 
in his processes : the object of the first labour was 
that there might be a finer labour — ^rather delight — 
in the completion. Without this evidence of liberty 
and joy the plant which had crept to its fiillness by 
the successive aid of every ministering energy would 
have been without its "consummate flower." 
" Quem mulcent aurse, firmat sol, educat imber." 

Facility is therefore secured by labour. It is' 
quite conceivable, and experience constantly shows 
that what is first done in careful and laborious 
succession may at last be done by a strong effort of 
attention at once. The previous labour here re- 
sides in the previous life. The well-known answer 
of Reynolds to one who complained that his price 
was high for the work of an hour is here applicable. 

But the sense here intended by the expresdon 
"facility is secured by labour" requires, for the 
purpose in view, to be explained. It is under- 
stood with reference to the efficacy of the pro- 
cesses which precede the exercise of freedom. That 
ultimate freedom may be called another kind of 


labour, for most certainly it is not to be exer- 
cised carelessly, though sometimes apparently so. 
The lesson which Rubens gives, in short, may be 
useful in an humbler form for those who, from 
whatever cause, are wont to take refuge in labour 
of a mechanical kind, instead of doing everything 
with apparent will. The greater the timidity or 
the less the amount of that instinctive energy 
which gives soul to trifles, the more the workman 
requires to calculate his previous labour so as to 
enable him to attain the desired facility at last ; to 
place it, in short, as completely in his power as 
possible. Van Mander says of Van Eyck that his 
dead colouring, or preparations, were more careful 
than the finished works of other painters. This is 
quite possible, and may have been the case even 
with Rubens' pictures as prepared by his scholars 
or even by himself. The preparations of the 
Florentine painters, Fra Bartolommeo and Andrea 
del Sarto especially, were also more careful than 
their finished works. A judicious economy would 
on every account suggest this ; the appearance of 
freedom is, we have assumed, an excellence — ^it is 
specious, winning, fascinating — it is not the quality 
to bury under subsequent and more laboured opera- 
tions ; it should be the consequence and not the 
forerunner of labour. 

What is called dead colouring is any stage of a 
picture short of its ultimate vivacity and intended 
completeness. The appearance of freedom after 

VOL. 11. c c 


most careful study might be given in the very last 
stage. The preparation, however advanced, should 
be calculated accordingly. If, for instance, a cut- 
ting edge of ploughed pigment next a form be 
intended, it would be necessary to keep the pre- 
vious surface flat and thin; to repeat a ridge of 
paint or a raised touch is an evidence of failure. 
Sometimes this cannot be avoided, but it is best 
avoided by care in the previous preparation, and by 
a fixed intention which is supposed to be justified 
by the effect of the sketch. 

The preparation of the groundwork, in every 
sense of the term, which is to receive the free 
painting, has been hitherto dwelt on, that stage 
which precedes the thin washes and glazings that 
complete and harmonise a picture. The pre- 
paration of the pigment itself for the final work, is 
equally essential. It by no means follows that the 
apparently brisk execution of fine pictures was 
really done in hast« ; a false colour in a light is a 
greater defect than a wrong direction of its form, 
(for the outline at least may be correct). Not 
only the tint as such, but in sufficient quantity, 
should be duly prepared; there can be no facility 
without abundance of colour : the brush even re- 
quires to be loaded with care, and not at random — 
then the " sprezzatura " or " bravura " of the hand 
will accomplish its task without hesitation. In 
some cases a single touch is absolutely requisite, 
and therefore requires to be in all respects right. 


but "right" does not mean formal, nor even 
neat; an accidental "abandon" is the (appa- 
rent) quality to aim at, the object still being to 
conceal labour. In other cases touches may be 
repeated, but only for the sake of more impastOy 
for better modelling. In such instances all that is 
requisite is that the last and most visible work 
should be quite free. 

The preparation of the tints in due quantity leads 
to the consideration of the sometimes disputed 
general question respecting mixing tints. Sir 
George Beaumont used to tell a story of Wilson, 
Who, after visiting the landscape painter, George 
Lambert, complained that he could see on Lam* 
bert's palette "the cow, and the grass she was 
going to eat." Some portrait painters (see Bouvier^s 
Manual) mix an infinity of tints for flesh. All this 
has been condemned, but the opposite extreme is 
equally unadvisable. Time, labour, and attention, 
are dissipated in constantly mixing tints with the 
brush from the pure colours on the palette ; brushes 
are used soft, there are unequal proportions of oil in 
the colours, and the palette may be said to receive 
more attention than the picture. The tints, a few 
at least, should therefore be prepared for the work 
of the moment. This is more especially necessary 
(though not at first seen to be so) in the final re- 
touchings. There should be colour enough and to 
spare, and each tint, whether for high lights or 
anything else, should be accurately prepared. The 

C G 2 


advanced work easily furnishes a key for the tones, 
and trials, to make all sure, are quite possible, for 
as the surface is assumed to be dry a tint may be 
tried and wiped off again. 

Finally, it may be repeated, the appearance of- 
dexterity and rapidity, the sweep of the brush, the 
sparkle of the touch are not only graces but neces- 
sities in painting. When a work lacks these, it 
should rather be carefully hard than carefully soft, 
for hardness, however objectionable, is allied to 
determination and exertion, softness to weakness 
and indolence. 


It has been elsewhere observed that the best pic- 
tures are but blunders dexterously remedied, and 
as, in inventing a picture, the necessity of certain 
picturesque arrangements suggests the introduction 
of incidents that often add greatly to the moral or 
ima^ative interest of the subject, so the remedies 
above alluded to may be the means of giving 
new character and zest to a subject. It is in this 
way that length is sometimes added to lines or ex- 
tent to masses of light, shade, or colour, and both 
advantageously so, where such would not have 
been thought of but from the necessity of remedy- 
ing a defect. The result of accident in this way 
brings the art nearer to nature, for where pictures 
ai'e the result of so much pondering and design (all 
which tends to neutralise character), any arrange- 


ment independent of the painter's will^ if at all com- 
patible with the subject, should be carefully pre- 

The great principle of lessening the effect of a 
form, or mass, or arrangement which is unpleasant 
to the eye is io, divert the attention from it. Some- 
times very little will do this, but, to do it effect- 
ually, to apply the proper remedy, the nature of the 
defects should be clearly understood. It will not 
then always be found that some opposite attraction 
will annihilate it, for this, on the contrary, may 
sometimes make the objectionable feature still more 
conspicuous. It is obvious that no mere rules (as 
such) can be intelligible or applicable in these 
cases, but the general principle of diverting the 
attention is always safe, for it even includes 
putting the defective object in shade, which cer- 
tainly diverts the attention from it by making it 
less conspicuous. But the other mode is by making 
some other object more conspicuous, and it is pre- 
cisely in this sort of remedy that the new object or 
attraction may be the means, never thought of be- 
fore, of eking out a composition, or mass, or line, 
which adds much to the general effect. It is ob- 
vious that in introducing a remedy, care should be 
taken to make a virtue of necessity^ and to make the 
remedy serve some positive as well as negative 
purpose ; at any rate when accident has thus sug- 
gested an improvement it should be followed up to 




To give grace, nature, case, and all that which 
makes a picture attractive, to a single head (with- 
out hands), is one of the difficulties with which por- 
trait painters, and even painters who are not tied 
to a likeness, have to contend ; and it is worth en- 
quiring what are among the causes which contri- 
bute to success in this particular. 

Extraordinary beauty, or an expression which 
seems to speak volumes, and with which we can 
converse, are the first and highest qualities in a 
single head. For it is obvious that when so little 
of a figure is seen, the only excuse for representing 
it doing nothing, is because it is very worthy to be 
looked at. A particular dress is often considered 
a sufficient reason, but it will never be admired if 
put on an unattractive person. In the next place 
all the powers of fascination which i)ainting pos- 
sesses are necessary, even with a beautiful and ex- 
pressive countenance, to make so abridged a repre- 
sentation truly effective, and equivalent to pictures 
which contain more. It may be observed tliat 
every picture, no matter what it contains or repre- 
sents, should be calculated for effect in a gallery 
of excellent works. We find for instance that a 
single head by Ivembrandt will bear down before 
it large masses of figures by inferior colourists; bo 


that it is not because it is a part of a figure or a 
small picture that a head must necessarily be with- 
out much interest. The fascinating eflfect which is 
produced by the powers of colour, light, and shade, 
requires the hand, science, and experience of a 
master, and to attempt to show in what that fasci- 
nation consists would be to unveil, were it possible, 
all the resources of the art. But in minor things 
there are some observations to be made on the 
general practice of painters. 

The placing the head high in the canvas is 
always to be observed; the contrary proceeding 
gives the idea of a short person, or the impression 
that we might have seen more of the figure. The 
next thing to attend to (and not so easily done), is 
to avoid a truncated appearance at the lower edge 
of the picture where the arms and body are cut off 
by the frame. When the bend of the arms can be 
shoNvn they look less glued to the sides of the 
figure, but even a very graceful action of the arms 
when cut off a little above the elbow may produce 
a very unpleasant and awkward effect. The action 
itself has, however, something to do with this, and 
it is better to let the portions of the arms take the 
direction which is least unpleasant, without think- 
ing what becomes of them afterwards, than to ima- 
gine a complete action, which may not, as above 
observed, be pleasing, seen piecemeal. The safest 
way, however, to get over this truncated appear- 
ance is either to lose the lower part in drapery, or 


to merge the outlines, if seen, in shadow or light, 
in short, to do away with the idea of division and 
cutting off, by hiding the intersection. 

The opposite to this principle would be to make 
the part of the figure cut off by the frame the most 
conspicuous, when we immediately feel that there 
is more of the figure which we do not see. On the 
contrary when the head is most conspicuous, and 
the lower part left in uncertainty, we are not so 
much reminded that it is a half figure. 

The making the head conspicuous is indeed the 
sine -quA non of this branch of art, and would only 
be neglected by an artist who had theorised himself 
out of the first and obvious requisites of a picture ; 
viz., that the greatest attention must be paid to^ or 
at least atti^acted by the parts which are most im- 

The grace and ease which are sometimes emi- 
nently pleasing in pictures of only head and shoul- 
ders, depend on truth of drawing and proportion. 
To render a common and natural action well, 
seems, in so small a portion of the figure, a matter 
of little diflSculty, but if it were not really ex- 
tremely difficult we should see it oftener well done. 
The cause of failure generally is the fitting on of a 
neck and shoulders to a face without sufficiently 

* In a small part of a figure^ as in a three-quarter canvas, 
any sort of background with detail and lights and darks is 
dangerous. It is supposed that the head only is worth ex- 
hibiting, otherwise so small a canvas would not be chosen — 
all else must, therefore, bo nothing in comparison. 


studying the harmony of the action as well as of 
the proportions from nature. The face is gene- 
rally advanced considerably before much is done 
to the rest. It is not necessary perhaps that all' 
should be carried on together, but a drawing of 
the whole is necessary (either on the canvas or on 
a separate paper) from the model. The forms and 
proportions may be afterwards improved. 

The more the representation is confined to the 
head, the more the head should not only be effec- 
tive and attractive, but the more it should have in 
it an expression and appearance which in nature 
would force us to forget the rest of the figure. A 
mere head perhaps is always best represented 
looking at the spectator, and if it has a depth 
of expression and something uncommon which 
realises or accords with some unuttered thought, 
in addition to all the charms of colour and effect, 
it will rivet the spectator as much as an historical 

But it is much better in fancy subjects, where 
an artist is not tied to size, to introduce the hands. 
The difficulty of getting over the truncated effect 
is greatly diminished, and, what is of more impor- 
tance still, a definite and motived expression and 
action can be given throughout what we see of the 
figure. It is true some difficulties are increased, 
such as the skilful management of the light, now 
rendered complicated by the spots of light foimed 
by the hands, the paramount necessity of making 


the general masses take pleasing shapes, &c. The 
hands, when thus introduced, should only serve to 
increase the expression of the head and the gene- 
ral beauty of the picture, but a more positive part 
they should not play. The actions and the feel- 
ings of a figure in a portrait or fancy subject of 
this kind are sufficiently limited if we reduce 
them to those truly interesting. We must always 
remember that the picture is supposed to ex- 
hibit the particular mind of the human being 
represented. A man with his hand extended^ as if 
speaking to or about to receive one who addresses 
him, may be excused in a portrait as a mode of 
identifying the individual, but it is worth nothing 
as a means of affecting or impressing the spectator. 
To do this the person represented must do some- 
thing or look something which exhibits him in his 
essential and peculiar, not in an accidental and com- 
mon character. A deviation from such a principle is 
less pardonable in fancy subjects because the cha- 
racter there is left to the painter's own choosing, 
and a work of this kind with no particular meaning 
(always remembering that it is the face which 
should mean most) is even less interesting than a 

In ideal subjects it is obviously safest to let the 
character and expression agree with the age and 
sex of the person. A lovely woman for instance 
will be more attractive (because more gencndly 
natural) with an expression of deep tenderness, 


melancholy, iunocence, hope, devotion, or benevo- 
lence, than with a look of profound meditation or 
grief; which latter supposes a remote cause of 
which we are left in ignorance, and also destroys 
beauty. But of all expressions in the head of a 
beautiful woman that of innocent, confiding, and 
devoted love is what will best teU in a picture. 

Next to the expression, par excellence^ should be 
considered all that contributes to heighten the 
eflfect of this union of the physical and moral cha- 
racter. Titian makes his female heads really 
women by the flow of soft luxurious hair, golden 
and waving, with part loose on the shoulders. 
The Greeks represented women round in outline 
and in relief, the bones suppressed, the angles of 
the shoulders softened. Titian had the same pene- 
tration in catching what is truly nature ; his half- 
tints are composed of imperceptible gradations on 
the cheeks, forehead, neck, and bosom, and thus 
the features tell with power. The greatest con- 
trasts in the figure have been placed by nature in 
the head, where the shadow of the hair gives value 
to the face, and in the face (where all the features 
should tell more than any accidental shade) the 
eye has more contrast, from it^ lightness, darkness 
and sparkle, than any other feature. 

The most ordinary colour of flesh and that which 
we find imitated in the works of the Italian masters, 
even including the Venetians, is a hue much lower 
than white and very different from any positive 


colour ; yet it may be wann or cool and still be 
comparatively neutral, and if warm it will either 
verge towards red^ yellow or orange. A negative 
colour of the latter kind, and- more or less lower 
than warm white linen, is the predominant hue of 
Titian's fairest flesh colour. If such a colour is 
supposed, it may be well to examine what ground 
will give it most value. It is first evident that a 
delicate colour of any kind * will betray the mixed 
nature of the flesh, the neutrality of which will be- 
come muddiness.^ But a positive colour of a vigor- 
ous kind will exhibit its neutrality without impair- 
ing its brightness, and if warmth and glow can also 
be exhibited we shall have many characteristics of 
flesh. The rest^ such as transparency, gradation, 
&c., being intrinsic qualities, are less dependent on 
opposition, though still greatly dependent. Various 
tones of blue and green of the deepest kind will 
therefore give warmth and comparative neutrality to 
flesh of the mixed and low kind, while the darkness 
of these colours will prevent even their purest parts 
from making the flesh look muddy. But any positive 
colour, very light indeed, near flesh which is com- 
posed of many broken colours, will make the latter 
muddy. Ridolfi relates that Titian preferred red 

* Hence the purity of white linen is not only unpleasant 
from its boldness, as Sir Joshua Reynolds remarks, but also 
because where flesh is truly rendered, it may betray its mixed 
nature. White, " tinged with the rays of the setting sun," may 
be as mixed a colour as the flesh, only more colourless, it will 
thus difler in degree, not in kind, and therefore harmonise. 


and blue as grounds to flesh, because, he says, they 
never injure the colour. A red ground to flesh 
will exhibit its pearliness and its neutrality, and 
should therefore be used where the flesh is neutral 
on the cool side — blue or green will best exhibit a 
flesh when that is neutral in the warm key ; but 
the sort of red we sometimes see in finely coloured 
pictures as a ground to flesh supposes a total sacri- 
fice of the flesh as to brightness ; or, if its purity be 
/^ also preserved, it supposes a very high key for the 

flesh and not so literal an imitation as the Venetians 
generally adopt. In Bonifazio we have i-ose-coloured 
draperies like gems and with bright lights, but the 
flesh next it no longer pretends to brightness, it is 
a low, pearly middle tint. In a portrait this would 
be too great a sacrifice, for the drapery may be 
said to be principal in such a case. 

Again, in Palma Vecchio we have sometimes 
gem-like lake draperies with bright lights, but the 
flesh is painted in the purest and highest key, and 
still has a superior brightness without losing its 
neutrality. Lastly, in Titian, we have the safer 
practice of deep, warm lake draperies next to flesh 
true in tone (neutral in a warm key) which give it 
brightness by their depth, and pearliness by their 
redness, and neutrality by their positiveness. 
Titian seems to have aimed at giving the transpa- 
rency of flesh, not by surrounding it with muddy 
colours (because his flesh is itself too mixed and 
broken) but by colouring it in such a mode as 


characterises a transparent body — viz., by making 
the shadows, at least at their beginning, very warm 
(the dark shadows will of necessity be warm). If 
we make the experiment of looking at a coloured 
drapery — a curtain, for instance — between us and 
the light, we shall find the colour deepened in the 
shades instead of becoming weaker, and we shall 
also observe that the colour of the object is, as it 
were, multiplied. This rich and pleasing effect is 
aimed at by all the Venetian painters in their dra- 
peries, and by Titian very much in the flesL To 
avoid a glassy and unsubstantial appearance this 
great master used draperies coloured still more in 
this system, while his flesh, which we know from 
Boschini,* was composed of the commonest earths, 
does not appear to have been finally glazed like his 
draperies with an absolutely transparent colour, 
but with one composed of semi-transparent washes ; 
thus acquiring a comparative solidity and earthiness 
compared to lighter substances. 

On the other hand a muddy background may 
be used with effect next to flesh which is remark- 
able for its positiveness and which abounds in un- 
broken tints. Such a practice is the reverse of 
Titian's general method, but the principle of con- 
trast is the same, and beautiful effects have been 
sometimes thus produced. This method gives 
flesh every agreeable quality and consequently at 

♦ Carta del Navigar^ v. 5. 


the expense of general truth, but in a half figure 
with little accompaniment this may be safely done 
if we have no means of detecting the artifice. 
That flesh should be warm, sufficiently neutral, and 
bright, is an object compatible with general imita- 
tion, but that it should be more transparent than 
any other substance, and lighter than any other 
substance, can only happen (to be true) when no 
other substances are visible. It follows that in a 
head, or (what is called) three quarters, where flesh 
is absolutely principal and alone, it may be prin- 
cipal in every way ^vithout losing its character. 
But after all, it must be remembered that Titian 
(and Giorgione perhaps) seldom availed themselves 
of this artifice, but always aimed at the general and 
true character of flesh, whether in a confined or ex- 
tended subject. 

We have thus considered how warmth^ compara- 
tive neutrality^ brightness^ and transparency — ^four 
great qualities of flesh — are to be approached. The 
imperceptible gradations of its half-lights are best 
heightened by visible sharpness upon or near them ; 
ornaments, such as black or gold necklaces, or gems, 
or dark cutting strings, and similar things, are in- 
troduced by the Venetians with the utmost hard- 
ness on flesh so softly graduated that we cannot 
arrest the division of the half-tints. Lastly, not 
only the edges of shadows are soft, but all shadoios 
which are constant and do not express a hollow are 
lightened up loith reflexions so as to keep the flesh 


free from large portions of ^darkness,* and hence 
the darks of the features and leading points tell 
with double meaning and vivacity. 

Of all these qualities that which admits of the 
greater variety of scale is the quality of brightness. 
Flesh may be made much whiter than it is and yet 
appear true if we have no white or any superior 
brightness near it. Where gems, gold, or silver 
are introduced the true scale of nature can only 
be given by painting flesh as low as it is. It is 
remarkable that Titian did this, and yet disdained 
to use the brightness in his power by making gems 
and metal sparkle. His flesh probably was always 
lower than nature, and richer and warmer, so that 
had he chosen to give the brightness of gems he 
might have done so, but we remark in his female 
portraits that he dwells rather on the colour than 
on the polish of gold — ^he dwells on its reflexions 
where its own colour is multiplied and enriched — 
but not on the direct shine of the light which 
naturally destroys the colour of the object. The 
same may be observed in his mode of painting the 
eye, the sparkle of white, powerful as it is in 
giving speculation to the eye, is not to the taste of 
a colourist ; the liquid appearance of the eye par- 
takes of and enriches its colour and transparency, 
but the direct light robs it of its colour, and, if a 

* That is to saj, the general idea of the colour should be 
preserved unimpaired by light and shade, as far as is com- 
patible with truth. 


considerable touch, produces undue and inharmo- 
nious contrasts. These direct touches of light are 
greatly suppressed in Titian when they come on 
the dark of the eye. But his method is quite 
different when large masses of polished substance 
are to be treated. The colour of the object is here 
nothing, its character is to reflect^ and it reflects all 
things. The beaming look of armour opposed to 
flesh, in which all polish is carefully suppressed^ 
gives great beauty to both. A polish on flesh is 
to be suppressed generally, as the light would differ 
from the colour, but more especially when metals, 
silks, or any glossy things are near. 


It is a common error with unpractised artists, 
especially if their minds are cultivated, to consider 
those subjects fittest for painting which excite the 
most important historical recollections, and in which 
the actors are interesting, at least from their names. 
The real interest of such pictures would be best 
tried by submitting them to spectators ignorant 
of the persons represented (as most spectators 
probably would be unless their names were written 
under the figures). In description it is of the 
first consequence that the actors, whatever they 
are doing, should be morally interesting. It is not 
what they are doing but who are doing which is 
the great source of interest ; for no one act, not 



even the greatest in a man's life, is equivalent to 
the impression produced by the sum of his acts 
and the world's opinion — in short, by his fame — 
which makes the individual interesting whatever he 
may be doing. In painting, on the contrary, it is 
not who is doing but what is being done, as pre- 
sented to our sight, which is the first as well as 
the last and longest source of interest. Great, or 
well-known names, in addition to this sine qud non^ 
undoubtedly add to the effect. 

There are many persons so unconscious of the 
difference between the best and the worst pictures 
that to them the association is all in all ; this exists 
with all spectators more or less, and is only in 
danger of being totally unfelt by that class of 
artists who make the impression on the eye alone 
the only rule for choice of subject, composition, 
costume, &c. When once this becomes the sole 
guide (and it is admitted in all cases to be a very 
principal one), no absurdities in a moral, historical, 
or chronological point of view check the artist. 
His object (he says) is to produce a powerful and 
pleasing impression on the sense, and he, not un- 
justly argues that those who criticise him for errors 
in costume, or for liberties taken with his subject, 
would have the right to find still greater feult with 
him if he produced an insipid picture. He works 
with his own materials, as the writer does with his, 
and the art of representation can only pretend to 
independence and, in short, to style when its prin- 


ciples and practice are regulated by its proper and 
distinct end. This view which contains much 
truth, but which easily admits of exaggeration, 
explains the extraordinary liberties which artists 
took at a time when the art was in its most perfect 
development. These licenses form a singular con- 
trast with the fidelity to costume and the insipid 
propriety of modern pictures. A very little re- 
flexion is sufficient to convince us that the master- 
works of art would never have received the sanction 
of universal and enduring approbation but for the* 
truest and the largest reasons — that the world's 
approbation has been given them because they 
unite as much of the end of art with as much of 
the means as is compatible, and that the defects 
above alluded to may often be necessary to, and 
even the chief cause of their excellence. 

A habit of contemplating works of art merely 
with reference to those qualities which are common 
to description and general learning is the cause of 
the quantity of false criticism which has so often 
fallen from the pens of cultivated men. Nothing 
in short is easier than to find the greatest defects 
as to history, situation &c. in the finest works, and 
nothing can be a greater mistake (in most cases, 
we do not say in all) than to suppose that the 
remedying of these defects would improve the work 
of aii;. Let the Laocoon be clothed (as he should 
be) in his sacerdotal robes, and the coldest of these 
critics would acknowledge that no drapery nor 

D D 2 


ornament, especially in the monotony of marble, 
would be so beautiful or so impressive as his fine 
and convulsed form. Here then is an instance of 
the translation which is necessary when a subject 
is changed from one language to another — fi*om 
description to representation. The first object of 
the artist who works in marble is to overcome its 
lifelessness^ and no representation of drapery or any 
inanimate substance as a principal object ever does 
this. Drapery was therefore treated generally as 
an accessory by the ancient sculptors, and, when 
entire figures were clothed, as the marble could 
not be turned into a surface of animated life, its 
hardness and rigidity were converted, in the form 
of drapery, into an illusion of softness and flexi- 
bility; but such qualities were inferior to the 
expression of voluntary action, in short, of life, 
and, above all, of human life. 

In painting too, nothing is so beautiful as the 
colour of the flesh, and we must not be surprised 
to find that the greatest colourists not only sought 
every opportunity of unclothing their figures but 
introduced all sorts of contrasts near them, whether 
warranted or not, in order to give them value, 
Michael Angelo's love of nude figures was of 
another, perhaps of a higher kind; he aimed at 
expressing grand ideas of nature, and with the 
feeling of a sculptor he disdained to waste his 
powers in painting cloth instead of human forms. 
The excesses to which Michael Angelo and the 



colourists carried this feeling, though for different 
reasons, are well known. Raphael, with the highest 
forms, was fortunate in having no particular passion 
either for colour, or for anatomy, and was therefore 
enabled to unite more of general propriety \vith the 
claims of art than any other painter. But let it 
not be supposed that even he will stand the test of 
the false criticism above alluded to. No painter is 
fuller of anachronisms. Like all the other great 
artists, he aims at satisfying the feelings and the 
eye, but not the leaiming of the spectator. Lastly, 
even Poussin — the classic, correct, and pure — is 
full of errors in costume, while he gives a general 
impression of the chaste and simple principles of 
composition so admired in the ancients. 

But if errors to this extent are to be found in 
the purest schools and examples what shall we say 
of those artists who confined themselves entirely to 
the ends of the art, and how can we account for 
the admiration bestowed upon them? Many of the 
mere colourists may be censured for having occu- 
pied themselves with an important part of the style, 
but not with the whole of the style of their art, 
Rembrandt, for instance, in compositions which did 
not require beauty, may be said to have attained 
perfection by satisfying the eye and the imagination 
and deeply interesting the feelings, and yet with 
every conceivable error of costume. The colourists 
of the Venetian school (always excepting Titian) 
atone for the want of interest often visible in their 


works, by a certain refinement of elegance which 
we always associate with splendour of colour, and 
which, in Paul Veronese, is often accompanied 
with a vivacity in the air and attitude, which 
although soon tiring, is addressed to the imagination 
and allied to ideas of beauty. Rubens, again, has 
not even this quality; he seldom approaches the 
idea of beauty in his forms or attitudes, yet he is 
always great in the particular beauty (that of 
colour) which constitutes the essence of painting, 
and every part of his works is evidence of his 
deep feeling for all that constitutes the style of 
this art as distinguished from any other. 

When intelligent spectators (who have not paid 
particular attention to art) are sincere in their 
opinions on such works, they judge them merely as 
expressive of a subject, and fasten immediately on 
anything that shocks their notions of propriety as to 
invention, costume, &c. Those again who are less 
severe endeavour to make up the sum of praise, 
which they know it is usual to bestow, by supposing 
excellences which come within their sphere of com- 
prehension. It is to be lamented that sensible men 
should think it necessary on these occasions to 
assume a virtue which they have not. Dr. Beattie, 
after sitting to Rejmolds, declares that, whatever 
might be thought of his colouring, he was a great 
designer. This was altogether affectation, because 
he could judge as little of the one as of the other; 
but it is not uncommon for intelligent people to 


praise a picture for that which it has not, merely 
because they know that something ought to be 

It is an undeniable fact that there are certain 
requisites in a work of art which are more neces- 
sary than any others. That which addresses the 
sense must delight the sense before it can reach the 
mind. Again, there is a difference in the interest 
of objects, and another difference in their sort of 
interest. It may be assumed first, that nothing is 
so interesting to human beings as human beings ; 
and secondly, that the exhibition of female beauty 
will always first attract the eye. But although 
interest in the object and beauty in colouring may 
be thus secured, a picture may still need some 
moral interest — that is, the feelings must be in- 
terested — and, lastly, the intellect may be addressed 
by as much attention to costume or history as can 
be kept subordinate to more proper claims. 


[Fragment from a Journal Book of 1828.] 

One thing is certain, that whatever the end of art 
may be, whatever feelings in men it may address, 
its means must be ever the same. These are not 
measured by the temper of society in any age, but 
.by the nature of the art itself, which is immutable. 
If it is not itself it will be surpassed by something 
else, either by Sculpture or by Poetry. There 


can be no question or no difficulty in settling the 
question as to what the strength and character and 
beauty of painting consist in — as a means. But 
what end these means shall serve, — in short what 
feeling in man should be addressed, is the question. 
It would at first appear that as the senses must 
necessarily be addressed and pleased, some feeling 
comiected with the mere enjoyment of nature 
ought to constitute the strongest impression made 
by the arts. This would, however, at once involve 
the necessity (in theory) of suppressing them al- 
together. It is evident, therefore, that they can 
be only fitted for the refined enjoyment of human 
beings when they correct the indispensable appeal 
to the senses by a pure moral impression. 

This is almost what the Memlings and Van 
Eycks do; their notion of colour is of the largest 
kind (making some allowance for the general in- 
fancy of art), the true character of things is every- 
where expressed (black is never lighted — ^flesh is 
always transparent — white is always brilliant), and 
while the sense is charmed with this large and 
true view of nature, which might give tenfold in- 
terest to a subject of more beauty, the end all this 
serves is of the most solemn, pure, innocent and 
noble kind. The beauties of nature and all the 
pleasures of sense may be presented in the same 
way, for we know it is quite possible for human 
beings to love Nature in her most attractive forms, 
without sensual associations, and if it were not so, 


GUI' reason would be useless to us. By attractive 
forms are not meant voluptuous ones, for these 
ai'e in their nature unfit for imitation; but there is 
no more reason why a pure subject should not be 
connected with the whole attractions of art in 
colour, &c., than that the beauties of nature should 
not be compatible with an innocent feeling. It is 
the privilege of reasonable beings to unite the two : 
united they must ever be, more or less, for the 
attempt to suppress the attractions of sense in life, 
is only as absurd as to attempt to reject colour 
from Painting. It comes then to this that, as the 
method or language of Painting is one, immutable, 
and indispensable, the great object is to take care 
that the end be noble, human, refined; for the 
means will take care of themselves. The end is 
defined by the nature of the feelings excited, and 
no matter what the subject is (if always suf- 
ficiently beautiful to the eye) so long as the feel- 
ings excited are noble and elevated. If they 
excite human sympathy in its pleasing degrees, 
all that is permanently graceful or refimed, all 
that is rational and intellectual in joy, and all 
that is dignified in sorrow — all in short that is 
human and religious — the end of art may be safely 
said to be accomplished in any age, for the human 
and Christian character is as certain in its defini- 
tion as the character of the art. It appears then 
that the means are determined by examining the 
nature of the art itself, — as it were blindly, impU* 


cidy, with a docile and passive spirit of enquiry — 
independently of any other consideration, and from 
this determination there is no appeal. The end^ on 
the other hand, is measured by the general feeling in 
the human spectator to be addressed, and as the 
senses must be. sensual, the end cannot be too high 
and pure, provided it be within our sympathies, and 
sufficiently analogous to human sensibilities. This 
is using the imitation of nature as wise men tell us 
to use nature itself— viz,, in subordination to our 
immortal and not natural being. The union of the 
two in Painting is extremely pleasing, because the 
very means by which the sense is delighted (as is 
elsewhere shown) make the ruling impression more 
strong. The more perfect the appeal to the sense 
in the meana^ the more impressive will be the end. 
The Greeks seem to have contented themselves 
vrith clearly defining the nature of the means, and 
the means and end were one with them. Nature 
only existed to be enjoyed; there was no moral 
monitor to check the indulgence of what nature 
offered ; but let it not be supposed that their art is 
therefore more consistent and perfect ; it was more 
easily made consistent, it is true, with the then ex- 
isting state of things. Still, there is no more im- 
possibility, as before said, in uniting a pure end 
with the indispensable means of art, than there 
is for a man to live for the health of body and 
mind, and not for his appetites : and, moreover, if 
accomplished, such a style of art would be more 


strictly human and characteristic of our nature, — 
more fitted for beings made of body and soul to- 
gether. If brutes could draw and model they 
would minister to earthly objects only; but beings 
who confess immortal aspirations must distinguish 
even their abstract ideas of Nature from such 
as mere mortals would arrive at. The Greeks 
defined the object of the hopes of mere mortals to 
consist in the enjoyment of nature — they defined 
them consistently, accurately, perfectly, as ad- 
dressed to the senses and the imagination. They 
defined too the feelings of the natural man to which 
their works were addressed — his pride, his dignity, 
his courage, his love, his taste — but his soul-felt 
trust, his peace, his faith, his humility, his contri- 
tion, they could not address, because they knew 
them not. They could represent the joys of 
nature, and the feelings of the natural man har- 
monized then with those joys as they do now: but 
evil in any shape was without solace to them: 
without resignation, without comprehension, with- 
out submission, the exhibition of evil in art appeals 
to human sympathies as if there were none else to 
help. Thus evil or pain if represented in antique 
sculpture either underwent modifications suited to 
the art, or was a means only to exhibit the 
human form in finer action. 



Aartsen, Peter, cartoon by, at Amster- 
dam, i. 394, 397 

Abies pectinata (Strassboig turpen- 
tine), (silver fir reein), i. 472 

Addison, ii. 382 

.Sltins, writer of fifth century, i. 19, 
21 ; on encaustic, 159 

Agapius, i. 268 

"Alamania, Johannes de," i. Ill 

Albeigo de' Poyeri, ii. 22 

Albert!, Leon Battista, opinion on oil 
painting on walls, ii. 64 

AlbertineUi, Mariotto, ii. 173; early 
friend and companion of Fra Barto- 
lommeo, 193; technical qualities 
nearly the same, 194 ; the "Visita- 
tion" in Uffizj, 194; altar-piece in 
Louvre, 194; ••Assumption" in Ber- 
lin Gallery, 196; "Annunciation" in 
Florentine Academy; Vasari's de- 
scription of his mode of painting it, 
19&-6, 205; lore of foreshortening, 
197, 200, 203, 205, 207 

Albinea, ii. 234 

Alcherius, i. 33, 45, 64, 95, 114, 116, 
118, 143,370,425 

Alcohol, i. 254, 292 

'• Alemannus," i. 283 

Alessio, Don, secreti of, i. 9, note, 328 

" Alia prima," ii. 39, 60, 123, 166, 274 

Allori, Alessandro, ii. 2 

Allori, Cristofano, ii. 203 

Aloes, i. 441, 445 

Alum, burnt, i. 341 ; "roche." 454 

"Ambar," Ajrabic word, applied to 
ambergris, i. 233 

Amber, as material, i. 230-5. See 


Ambergris, i. 233 

Anatomy, study of, in S. Maria Nuova, 

ii. 4 
Anciknts, thb, i. 13-29 ; not oil 

painters, 18 * 
Andrea Pisano, i. 17Q, 173 
Anselmi, ii. 271 
ApeUes, i. 173, 377 
Apothecary, colour provided by, i. 1 1 
Aqua di raggia (spirit of turpentine), 

i. 528 
Aqua fortis, i. 93 
Aretusi, Cesare, copied Correggio's 

" Coronation of Virgin" in oil, ii. 235 
Arezzo, Spinello of, i. 73 
Armenini, i. 388 note, 443 note ; ii. 42, 

55 note, 57 note 
Ashes, wood, i. 158 ; English, German, 

and Haarlem, a light blue, 453 
Aspertini, painted with girdle of pots 

of colour, i. 403 
Asphaltum, objections to, i. 166 ; much 

used by Flemish painters, 463; 

mentioned, 542, 548. See Receipts 

100, 101 
Astori, i. 156 
Athos, Moimt, monks of, painters, i. 

•• Atramentum," i. 15, 252 
Auripetnim, i. 74 
" Ausse" (Hans Memling), i. 207; ii. 

2 note 
Azura, i. 122; azurro della Magna, 

121 ; ii. 41 note, 124 ; bis azura, i. 

122 ; pura azura, 122 ; azura debilis, 

122 and note 
Azure, i. 117 

Bacchiacca, II, ii. 201 note, 206 
Baldinucci, i. 256 note, 261 




Baldovinolti, Alessio^i. 223, 224 ; ii. 19 
Balsam of Copaiba, i. 459 ; of Cyprus, 

460 ; of Canada, 460 
Barker, Mr. Gheorgn, restorer, i. 446 
Baroccio, ii. 252, 264, 359 
Bany, ii. 356 
Baaaiti, ii. 361 
Bassan, ii. 310 note, 370 
Battens, or mode of strengthening 

panels, i. 415 
Beaumont, Sir G., ii. 351, 375, 387 
Beecafumi, Bomenico, went back to 

tempera, ii. 77 
Beer, use of, in painting, i. 109 and 

Brllixi THtifirsD HIS macut, &e., ii. 

Bellini, Giovanni, i. 220, 380; early 

works discoyered to be in tempera, 

ii. 14 note, 82, 90, 144, 147, 150, 

Bellini, Jacopo and Gentile, executed 

their first pictures on cloth, i. 99 
Berenice, i. 231 ; Greek synonym for 

amber, 246; city of, 268 
Bemice, word applied to amber, i. 

232 ; ii. 27 
Bernstein (amber), i. 288 
Berto, ii. 28 
Beuis, Willera, treatise of, i. 361, 437 

note, 439, 450 ; on vermilion, 450 ; 

on greens, 457, 462 
Bianchi, Francesco, called II Frari, ii. 

221 ; supposed master of Corroggio, 

221 ; picture in Louvre, 221 
Bicci, Lorenzo di, ii. 2 
Bice, blue, i. 453 ; Indian, 453 ; green, 

Biloqne, La, hospital at Ghent, i. 1 77 
Birelli, ii. 41 note 
" Bisetus," or " biseth of folium," i. 

425, 427 
Bismuth, white of, i. 536; M^tens 

tried it, 536 ; tin not distinguished 

from it, 537 
"Bi880,"i. 122 
Bizzamano, i. 413 note 
Black, i. 43 ; better for being much 
ffround, 419 ; explanations of, i. 466 ; 
lamp black, bad effects of, 462, 466 ; 
use of, bj Fra Bartolommeo, ii. 174, 

178, 192 ; bone, 466 ; ivofy, 466 ; ii. 

178; cornu cervimim, 466; chalky 
466; walrus, invented by Apelles, 
466; vine (charcoal), 466; blue 


black, 467; red black, 467; pit 
coal, 467 ; common coal, 477 
Bladders, oil colours kept in, i. 405 
and note 

Blue, explanation of, 453; modes of 
protectingfromyellowingof varnish, 
455; ^* Haarlem blue," perishable, 
453 ; Prwtsian, 465 ; ii. 44 

Bole, Armenian, i. 118 

Boltzen, Valentine, Illuminir-Buch, i. 
133, 325, 342, 343, 485; ii. 42 note 

fionanni, ii. 29 note 

Bones, calcined, i. 131 ; used early, 1 32, 
342 ; sheep's bones, 343, 344 ; ii. 35. 
See Receipt 70 

Bonfigli, first master of Perugino, ii. 1 26 

Borax, odcined, i. 341 

Borghini, description of wall painting, 
ii. 68-9; mentioned, 113, 116 

Borso, Count of Correggio, ii. 225 

Bos, Jeronimus, execution of, i. 393,4 1 1 

Boschini, ii. 358, 367, 398 

Botteggiando (stabbing^ ii. 283, 338, 

Botticelli, S:indro, tempera pictures not 
hatched, i. 103 ; ii. 19 

Boufikult, secret for beautiful green, 
i. 461, 462 note 

Boulanger, ii. 234 

Bouvier, L 459 ; ii. 387 

Branchi, Professor, analysed old pic- 
tures, i. 163 and note 

Brandenburgh, Barbara of, ii. 225 

Brazil wood, i. 114 ; gave its name to 
country, 115 and note 

Bread-crumbs, for purifying oil, i. 336 

Breughel, Peter, i. 379, 394 

Brick, pulverised, to clarify, i. 303 

Broom, i. 441 

"Broun," i. 118 

Browns, explanation of, i. 118, 119; 
Vandyck, 462 ; Antwerp, receipt for, 
464; Prussian blue burnt, a fine 
brown, 465 ; rich, 488 

Bruges, Giovanni of (Jan Van £yek), 
i. 203. See Giovanni da Bruggia 

Bruges, Roger of (Rogier van der 
Weyd^), i. 97, 217 ; li. 23, 25 

Bruggia, Giovanni da (Jan Van Eyck), 
ii. 23, 64 

"Brunus," i. 118 note 

Buffalmaco, anecdote of nuns, i. 109 

Bugiardini, ii. 179, 199 ; Madonna by, 
in Uffizj, 200 

Bunbury, Sir Heniy, Bart., i. 421 




Burke, ii. 302 note 

Butman, on amber, ii. 27 note 

Byzantine pictures, painted on leather, 

i. 69 ; treatise by Dionysius, i. 79 ; 

diptychs, 480 

Candles, ancient use of, i. 162 

Caneparius, on vemix, i. 239 

" Caparoze," (shells), i. 402 

Caput mortuum, (colcothar of vitriol), 
1. 452 ; ii. 264 

CardanuB, on yemix, i. 238, 270, 285, 

Carducho, ii. 101 

Carlisle, Anne, i. 304 note 

Caroto, G. F., i. 383 

Carracci, Annibale, ii. 42 ; groups of 
heads from Correggio, in National 
Gallery, probably by, 235 

Carmcci, Lodovico, i. 324 ; ii. S05, 311 

Carton, Abb4, ii. 1 1 note ; 33 note 

Cartoons, habit of making, suryived in 
Flanders and Holland, i. 897 

Cassel earth (Vandyck brown), i. 446, 

Castagno, Andrea dal, ii. 2, 23 

Castello, on vemiz, i. 239 

" Cauterium," i. 152-3 

Cement, see Glue, i. 371-2 

Connini, i. 21, 27; his Trattato ddla 
PUtura, 62-70, 94, 123, 139; men- 
tions " vemice liquida" nine times, 
225, 229 ; on preparation of panel, 
374; on painting in oil on walls, 
384 ; recommends to boil wood, 
417 ; on grinding white lead, 419 

" Cera colla," i. 170, 171, 173 

Cereuse, i. 119 

Cerius, i. 119 

"Cervisa"(beer), i. 109 

Cespedes, i. 368, 379 note, 402, poem, 

Cestrum, i. 153, 159, 168 

Chalk, with lime as purifier of oil, i. 

Chandarasa, i. 233 

Chapter-House, Westminster, wall 
paintings in, i. 178 

Charlemagne, age of, an era in the 
arts. i. 24 

Chaucer, reference to Brazil wood, i. 

Cheese, glue made of, i. 372 ; anecdote 
of Paolo Uccello, 373 note 


Chemistry, auxiliary of painting, i. 1 1 ; 

iairo-, 300 
Chesnut wood, i 877 
Chiaboscvbo pbspabations, ii. 327- 

Christophsen, Peter, picture in Stadel 

Institute i. 190, 207 note, 276 
Cigoli, ii. 203 
Cimabue, ii. 1 
Cini, Simone, i. 73 
Cireumlitio, ancient Greek varnish, i. 

Cloth, pieces of, colours preserved on, 

i. 127 
Coal, i. 467, 477 
Cochin, i. 498 
Colantonio del Fiore, i. 216 
Colcothar of vitriol, i. 452 (formerly 

called ** caput mortuum ") 
Colla, Donna Briscide, ii. 243 
Cologne earth, i. 462 ; used by Flemish 

masters, 496 
Colonna, Vittoria, i. 222 note 


&c., ii. 298-314 

Colours, divided into four classes, i. 
420; perfect levigation of, 427; 
death of, 427 

Columella, i. 156 

Cool lights on bed, ii. 354>5 

Copaiba, balsam of, i. 459 

Copal as material, i. 233 ; South 
African best, 234 ; sometimes con- 
founded with amber, 234 ; pulverised, 
295; mode of dissolving, 300-1, 302 
note; mentioned, 316. See Varnish 

Copperas, white, i. 131, 133, 284, 285 
note J 299 ; dryer most common in 
Flemish school, 310-1, 812-3, 
348 ; safest metallic dryer, 349 ; 
exaggerated objections to, 350; 
mentioned, 365 note; does not 
combine with, but hardens varnish, 
366 ; preferred by Hubert Van Eyck, 
867 ; chief diyer used by Van Eyck, 
ii. 34, 35 note; mentioned, 113. See 
Receipts 75, 76 

Corelli, ii. 349 

Correggio, Antonio Allegri da, ii. 6, 
76 note, 209; early history and 
education wrapt in obscurity, 209 ; 
best life by Pungileoni, 210 ; stories 
of his poverty, false, 210 ; criticism 
on Correggio in last century, 212; 
a humorous feeling in his works. 




St. Sebastian at Dresden a speci- 
men of it, 212-3. 241 ; saw 
qualities of light, gradation, and 
foreshortening in nature, 213-4; 
his figures placed at angle with 
plane of picture, 214; his my- 
thological subjects, 215; union of 
beauty and mysteir, 215-6 ; com- 
parison of his cupola painting with 
Sistine ceiling, 216 ; his foreshort- 
enings and perspective, 217 ; sub- 
sequent abuse of his system, 218 ; 
. extreme warmth of shadows in 
frescoes; Wilkie on this, 219; his 
birth and death, 221 ; believed to 
have removed to Mantua at age of 
seventeen, 222 ; his presence at 
Bologna apocryphal, 223 ; influence 
of Mantegna's works, 223-4 ; could 
only have executed his foreshorten- 
ingsfrom suspended clay models, 225 
-6, 229 ; the Betrayal, 226 ; sketch 
of Muleteers in Stafford House, 
227 ; St. Francis at Dresden, 221, 
227-31 ; influence of Leonardo and 
of Mantegna, 227; tendency to 
make composition subservient to 
expression of space, 228 ; abundant 
use of vamiHh, 230; a PietA, 231 ; 
portrait of Physician in Dresden 
G-alleiy, supposed to be of his friend 
liombardi, 232; a Riposo, and 
altar-piece in three parts, lost, 232 ; 
Christ on Rainbow, m Vatican, 233 ; 
"S. Marta," so called, in Bath 
House, 233 ; altar-piece, for village 
of Albinea, 234 ; his frescoes in S. 
Giovanni, Coronation of Virgin de- 
8tro;^ed, parts copied by the Car- 
racci, 234-5 ; Marriage of St. Ca- 
therine in Louvre, 235 ; small pic- 
ture of same at Naples, 235-6 ; 
Christ in Garden, Apeley House, 236 ; 
*'La ZingarelU." Naples Gallery, 
237 ; Viiyin adoring Child, in Tri- 
bune, Florence, 237-8; Virgin 
dressing the Child, National Gal- 
lery, 237-8, 254 ; " Noli me tan- 
gere," Madrid, 238; Cupid making 
his Bow, Vienna, 238 ; Repetition in 
Stafford Gallery, 238 ; "Ecce Homo," 
Nat'onal Gallery, 238, 259 ; Mercury 
teaching Cupid, National Galleiy, 
289 ; Jupiter and Antiope, Louvre, 
240, 254 ; Deposition, and Martyr^ 


dom of SS. Placido and Flavia, in 
Parma Gallery, 240 ; ' ' Madonnadella 
Scodella," Parma Gallery, Wilkie 
upon it, 241 ; St. Jerome, Parma 
GaUerv, 242 ; Story of Pig, 243 ; **La 
Notte,*^ Dresden, 246; Wilkie on it. 
247 ; " S. Giorgio," Dresden, 247, 252, 
254; Magdalen reading, Dresden, 
248 ; lo, Leda, Ganymede, and Danae, 
249 ; Triumph of Virtue and Bond- 
age of Vice, Louvre, 249 ; Repeti- 
tion of Triumph of Virtue in Dona 
Palace, Rome, and description of 
process, 249-51, 259, 264 ; every 
method of art familiar to him, 
251 ; his employment of coloured 
crayons, 252 ; practice of model- 
linj^, 252 ; practice of tempera ac- 
quiied probably from Mantegna*8 
triumphs in Mantua, 253 ; tempera 
pictures all on cloth, 253 ; Rey- 
nolds' opinion of process, 254, 260 
peculiar softness and finish of fieah, 
265 ; his " pentimenti," 267 ; proba- 
bly preferred amber varnish, 270-8 , 
analysis of a portion of picture by 
Correggio, 271, 322, 338 

CoRRBGQio, &e., ii. 298-314 

Cortona, Pietro da, ii. 179 

Coxcis, Michael, i. 195 

Cotignola. Girolamo da, i. 148 

Credi, Lorcnso di, i. 399 ; ii. 79 ; 
learnt painting chiefly from Leo- 
nardo da Vinci, 80 ; his style and 
practice, 81 ; attachment to Veroc- 
chio, 82 ; his tempera pictures sel- 
dom interesting, 82 ; two pictures 
by him in Uffi^', 83 ; conscientious 
love of finish, 84 ; many tints on 
his palette, 85 ; preferred nut oil, 
85, 213 

Crivelli, Carlo, pictures by, laboured, 
i. 110 

Crispness and sharfnrss, &c., ii. 

Croton tinctorium, i. 95 

Cups, small, for tints, i. 401 

Curcuma, i. 441 

Cuyp, copal his ordinaiy medium, i. 
302 note 

Cynople (madder lake), i. 116 of 
Montpelier, 117 

D' Aquila, Giorgio, chapel at Pinarolo, 
i. 46 ; quantity of oil supplied, 56,84 




DeBastyii. 11 

De Bie, i. S98» 462 

Dks'uiitions, nbcessitt for, ii. 314--6 

De Heere, Lucas, poem by, i. 188 ; 
master of Van Mander, i. 396 

De Ketham, writer, i. 282, 486; ii. 

Delia Valle, Padre Guglielmo, i. 66 

De Mayeme, i. 45 note^ 121 ; obser- 
rations on poppy oil, 358, 359 ; ou 
boiling oil, 364; on using shells, 
402 note ; receipt for washing, 
426-7 ; on pictures that shine, 
433; on gamboge, 441, &c.; memo- 
randum of Rubens, 529 ; Mat- 
BBNB Manuscbipt, 546 ; account of 
him, 546 

Depth, a quality of oil painting, i. 412 

Depth, ii. 353-4 

Dkfth of light Tnrrs, ii. 382-3 

De Sausfiure, experiments on oils, i. 
314, 357 

Descamps, i. 491, 498, 500; on prac- 
tice or Bubens, 504 

Devon, Mr., i. 178-80 

Didron and Durand, MM., i. 21, 79 ; 
ii. 55 notey 75 note 

Diptychs, consular, i. 479 ; Byzantine, 

Dioscorides, i. 15, 16, 19, 25 ; direc- 
tions by, 26 ; on juice of fig-t>ree, 
102; on bleaching wax, 155; on 
naphtha and wax, 162 ; on resin and 
wax, 164 

Dolce, Lud. ii. 360 

Donatelli, i. 73 

Dragon's blood, i. 118 

Dresden Gallery, chiefly made by 
purchase of Modena Gkilleiy, ii. 241 

Diirer, Albert, sent drawing to Ra- 
phael, i. 98, 389 

Du Val, Robert* i. 524, 525 

Dynamic tints, ii. 276 

£astlake. Sir Charles, ii. 15, note by 

Effect, ii. 326 

Egg, i. 43, 57, 66, 72, 73 ; yehide, an- 
tiquity of, 101, 102, 145, 223, 270, 

Ely Cathedral, notices of oil in records 
of, i. 49, 54 ; extracts relating to, 
55 note 

Ely Chapel, i. 58 


Embossed ornaments on early Italian 
pictnres, referred to in English 
accounts, i. 124 

Empoli, Jacopo di, ii. 203 

Encaustic (burning in) mentioned, 
i. 20, 149 ; process described by 
Pliny, 149; its synonyms, 150-1; 
modes and implements, 151-5 (see 
Wax Painting); Montabert, its 
eulogist, 273 note; artists used 
shells, 401 ; Caylus' efforts to re- 
store it, 538 

" Encautai," painters on walls, i. 150 

Enew, to (to saturate), i. 119 

Ekglish Abt, baslt Sfbcdons of, 
i. 176-81 

English artists, habits of, in fourteenth 
century resembled those of followers 
of Giotto, i. 125 ; equal to those of 
Italy in early times, 176 

English Methods of fourteenth cen- 
tury, i. Ill 

English records of operations in paint- 
ing, i. 48-58 

Eradius, ancient writer on art, i. 21, 
31,32, 33,42,53,58; ii 135 

Ercole da Ferrara, i. 148 

Etching, early understood and prac- 
tised, i. 92. See Receipt 24 

Etruria Pittrice, ii. 18 

Etty, Mr., ii. 256 

Exeter Cathedral, ii. 30 

Experiments, i. 8, 9, 366 

Pabbroni, analysis of colours of mum- 
my-cloth, i. 162 

Facilitt of HXBCunoM, ii. 381-8 

FaciuB, mention of Van Eyck, i. 183, 
41 2 ; on picture of Bath (Van Eyck), 

Fairfield, landscape painter, i. 302 

F^libien, i. 438 

Feltz of Constance, mode of rendering 
colours permanent, i. 454 

Fembach, i. 295 note, 348, 349, 367, 
425 note 

Femix, or yemix, i. 248, 288 

Fesch, Cardinal, collection of, ii. 88, 154 

Fig-tree juice, i. 101, 104 

Filabbtb, AirroNio, ok two Copies of 
AN IMBDITBD MS. BY, ii. 21-5 ; 
earliest Italian description of pro- 
cess of oil, 64-6, 67, 68, 135 

FimsH, ii. 323 


E E 




Fir re«in, ii. 43. 8ee Turpentine, and 

Receipt 41 
" Flatting " eif<H:t of essential oil, i. 86 
Flemish oil painters, process of, from 
Van Mander, i. 392 ; never stippled, 
410; practice of, 483; School, re- 
capitulation of Dractice, ii. 26-78 
Florentine school, greenish nnder- 

painting, i. 253 
Focchora, or Fochetta, Giovanni (Jean 

Fouquet), ii. 24 
Folium, i. 426 note 
Foppa, Yincenzo, ii. 25 
Fouquet, Jean, of Tours, ii. 24 
Fra Bortolommeo, i. 381 ; sealons 
follower of Savonarola, ii. 172 ; atr 
tached to Lorenzo di Credi, 172 ; 
painted in chapel of S. Maria Nuova, 
178; best colourist of Florentine 
school, 173 ; adhered in thinness of 
flesh to Flemish method, 173; at 
one time fell into defect of black- 
ness, 174 ; doors of shrine in Uffiig, 
174 ; Vision of St. Bernard in Flo- 
rentine Academy, 175; Holj Fa- 
mily in Corsini Falacp, Rome, cha- 
racteristics of, 176 ; Marriage of St. 
Catherine, Louvre, 177 ; '* Madonna 
del Baldaochino," in Pitti, 178; Piet4 
in Pitti, 179 ; " Salvator Mundi" in 
Pitti, 180 ; Job and Isaiah in Uffizj, 
180 ; S. Vincenzo in Florentine 
Academy, 180, 192; St. Mark 
in Pitti, much suffered, 181, 189; 
small Holy Family in Pitti, 181 ; 
Holy Family at Panshanger, 181 ; 
his three ^eat works at Lucca, 
182-3 ; design for the picture in S. 
Romano finished by Raphael, 183 ; 
when in Rome, 184 ; St. Peter 
and St. Paul begun in Rome, com- 
pleted by Raphael, 185 ; unfinished 
Madonna and Child, exhibited at 
British Institution, 1841, 187, 189 ; 
the Presentation, at Vienna, 187 ; 
Annunciation, small picture, in 
Louvre, 187; picture of Patron 
Saints of Florence in Uffizj, 188 ; 
used a yellowish ground, 189; ex- 
treme thinness of flesh tints, 190 ; 
method nearly in accordance with 
Flemish practice, 191 ; prepared 
his pictures as if cartoons, 192; 
studied chiaroscuro of oompoaitions, 
1 92-3 ; St. Geoxge and Dragon and 


Head of Christ, 193; lay fllgare 
first used by him, 193, 203; pecu- 
liarities common to Leonardo and 
Fra Baitolommeo, 205 ; his method 
had an unfortunate influence on 
Florentine school in one respect* 
206, 259, 327, 385 

Francia, Francesco, i. 11 note; little 
known of his education in art, ii. 
148; supposed influence of Peru- 
fi;ino*B pictures, 148 ; chief difference 
m his practice, 149 ; general cha- 
racteristics, 150; Vasari's account 
of enthusiasm with which his pic- 
tures were received, 151 ; ridiculed 
by Michael Angelo, 151 

Fra Oiovanni (Fm Ajigelico), iu 32 

Franciabigio, ii. 200 

Frankincense, i. 285 note 

Fresco, i. 104, 128. Fbbsco Pjjiitiko, 
141-8; not in use till close of 
fourteenth century, 141; "buon 
fresco,"* 142; *' secco,'* 142; last 
named inferior, 143; paintings of 
Pompeii executed in " secCo," 144 ; 
method of followers of Giotto, 146 ; 
earliest work in " buon fresco," 147 ; 
works b^gun in fresco, completed 
in tempera, 148 ; mentioned, ii 64 ; 
by Leonardo da Vinci, 94; by 
Perugino, 128, 131; Raphael's 
frescoes, 172; Fra Bartolommeo's, 
172-3 ; Correggio's, 216-20, 234-5 ; 
by Mantegna, 224 ; by Melomo da 
Forli, 224. See Receipt 32 

Oaddi, Agnolo, i. 27, 62, 140 note, 260 

Galen, i. 17, 25 

Gamboge undeservedly fallen into 
disuse, i. 441 and note, 442. See 
Receipt 92 

Garlic, juice of, i. 633 

Geber, the Arabian, i. 186 note 

Gbmliiub quality, ii. 378-81 

Gentile da Fabriano, i. 103 and note, 

Gentileschi, Artemisia, i. 304 

Gentileschi, Orazio,i. 303; good musi- 
cian, 304 ; had *' an excellent green,** 
532, 535 ; ii. 51 aud note, 270, 359 

" Gesso grosso," i. 375, 383 ; " marcio," 
370; subtile, 370 note; "gentile," 
383, 386 

Ghiberti, Lorenso, on Giotto's painting 
in oil, i. 46 




GhirlandajOy David, ii. 20 
Ghirlandi^o, Domenico, ii. 20-1 
Ghirlandigo, Ridolfi, i. 376 ; ii. 199 ; 

funeral of St Zenobius in UfBzj, 199 
Giachetto {see Focchora), ii. 23, 26 
Giallo santo, ii. 194 
Gildings, i. 20. See Receipt 31 
Giorgione, i. 413 ; ii. 279-81, 301, 322, 

334, 399 
Giotto, occasionally painted with oil, 

i. 46, 62, 125, 252 
Giulio Romano^ ii. 170 
Glas, means amber, i. 246 
Glass ]3ainting, oil used for, i. 66; 

painting and gilding on, 76-7 ; as 

dryer, 310 and note; Venetian glass 

as diyer, 351, 358 ; Van Eycks in- 
fluenced by practice of glass painters, 

408, 423 ; ground, ii. 54 
Glassa, i. 243, 245, 288 
Glaziko ststbx, ii. 870-3 
Glessum, i. 244 ; Latin and German 

synonym for amber, i. 246, 288 
Glessarian island of Pliny, i. 288 
** Gloriat " (turpentine), i. 279, 280 
Glossy painting, i. 82, 86 ; esteemed 

by the ancients, 173, 627 ; ii. 63 
Glue, Rhodian, i. 4 ; ifish, 112 ; cheese, 

372 ; anecdote of Paolo Uccello, 373 

Gluten, i. 171 
Gold, leaf,i. 124 ; ground, discarded by 

John Van Eyck, 446 ; heightening 

with, ii. 148 
Goltzins, i. 397 
Gonzaga, Lodovico, ii. 225 
"Gh>mma di yemioe" (dry sandarac 

resin), i. 240 
Guzsoli, Benozzo, iL 11 note 
Grain of Portugal, celebrated from 

time of Pliny to Chaucer, i. 116 
" Graines d'Ayjgnon," i. 441 
Granacci, Francesco, ii. 20 ; a work by, 

burnt by candles, 76 note, 197, 199, 

200, 201 note, 202 
Grandi, i. 78 
Grassa, Spanish term for sandarac, i. 

Greek pitch ("pece Greca," or "pe- 

gola^i. 168, 249 
Greeks, the, ii. 319-20, 395, 410 
Green, how not to fade, i. 432 ; leaves 

faded to blue, 441 ; explanation of, 

457; bladder gieen, 458; Bouf- 

fault's secret, 461 



Greuze, i. 38 
Grounds, i. 74 ; gold, 445 (see Receipt 

21); light, and middle tint, 484; 

Rubens' always white, 499 
Gualandi, Memorie, &c., i. 11 note 
Guicciardini, Luigi, i. 309 
Gum tragacantb, i. 4, 542 ; water, 

45; ivy, 117 
" Gummi fbmis," i. 245 

Hangings for rooms in ordinary tem- 
pera, i. 97 

Hartshorn, calcined, the white of, i. 

Haslam, chemist, description of painted 
glass in St. Stephen's Chapel, i. 

Hatching, absence of, in early Fle- 
mish Dainters, ii. 53, 83, 86, 136, 153 

Heintz, li. 238 

Heradides, i. 167 

Henry VUL, ii. 8 

Hermogenes, i. 153 

Hoffinann, experiment with amber, i. 
318 note 

*' Hollande, Francois de," extracts from 
MS. by, i. 221 note 

Hon^, i. 104, 105 ; employment of in 
painting, 106, 108 ; used by Nurem- 
beig painters, 110, 112, 133. See 
Receipt 27 

Hoogstraaten on blue, i. 453, 457, 462 ; 
on blacks, 466, 477; anecdote of 
Rembrandt, 478, 600; on smart 
handling, 501 ; ii. 346 

" Hortulus anime," i. 403 

Humboldt's CoemoSj on amber, ii. 27 

Impiccati, Andreino degli (Andrea dal 
Castagno), ii. 23 

" Imprimeur Wallon," i. 484 

** Incaustum " of TheophUus, deriva- 
tion pf word, i. 151 

" Inehiostro^" derivation of word, i. 

Indian red, i. 450, 452 

Indigo (London), i. 120; synonyms 
of, 120, 121 ; whence derived, 121 ; 
how to make safe, 454 ; fades with- 
out varnish, 469 

Ingegno, ii. 144 

Ingrofis, to, derivation of, i. 114 note 

E s 2 




Ink, dorivation of word, i. 161 
Iftinglasfl, i. 159; Vandjek*s experi- 
ment of priming with, 585 
Ivy gum, L 117 

Jansen, Cornelius, i. 807; mode of 

using orpiment, 447 
Jerae, a, i. 51 
Jordaens *' gaily lay on the oolours/' 

i. 502 ; anecdote of Rubens, 509 note 
Juniper, put for sandarac, i. 238-9 
** Justus de Alemania," fresco at Genoa 

by, i. 217 
Justus Tan Ghent, altar-piece at 

Urbino, i. 217 

** Karabe," Persian for amber, i. 233 
"Kermes,** derivative of crimson, i 1 16 
Kirkup, Mr. Seymour, ii. 38 note 
Kneller, Sir Godfrey, i. 489 note 
Konigsberg, document, i. 79 

Lac (Indian lake), i. 451 

Lackprs, i. 82 ; gold, ii. 38. See Re- 
ceipt 44 

Lake madder, i. 116 

Lalaof Cyzicum, female artist^ i. 153 

Lambert Geo., ii. 385 

Lamp-black, #00 Black 

LampsoniusofLi^i. 196-7,214, 404 

*' Lampten," meant for London, i. 128 

Laniire, M., i. 304 ; experiment with 
nut oil, 323, 360 

Laocoon, the, ii. 300, 403 

Largilliire, i. 491 

Latombe, Abraham, on nut oil, i. 325 ; 
picture by, mined in damp church, 
377, 432 

Lay figure, ii. 193 

" LazSra," blue copper ore, i. 121 

Lead (white), i. 44, 70, 312 ; exagge- 
rated objections to, 350, 351, 352 ; 
used in natural state, filings, or shot, 
355 ; better for beins ground, 419 ; 
bbickens, 435. See K^ipta 77, 78 

liCad, sugar of, precautions in using, 
i. 349 note ; danger of, 350, 366 ; 
ii. 34 

Leaf tin and silrer, i. Ill, 123, 125 

Leather, i. 1 59 ; gilt, of Amsterdam, 442 

Le B€gue, Jehan, i. 33, 42, 68-4, 110 
note, 143, 159, 170, 246 

Leedham, Mr. Francis, skill in lining 
pictures, i. 416 

Lely. Sir Peter, i. 308 


L'Escalopier, M., publication by, i. 21, 

licwis* solution of amber, ii. 35 note 
Leyden, Lucas Van, i. 389 
Libavius, i. 291, 297 noU 
Liberale, Veronese, door painted bj, 

iiq'uied by candles, ii. 76 note 

lilFB IN INAMTHATBTHnrOS, ii. 373, 374 

Lime, mixture with oil, i. 64 ; use of, 
145 ; lime painting, 148, 159, 342, 
345, 372 

" Lineleon,** linseed oil, i. 28 

Linen, Emolish and Gerxait Mods 
OFPAurriMO ON, i. 95-100 ; common 
in Netherlands in beginning of 15th 
century, 97 ; drawing on, by Albett 
Diirer, sent to Raphael, 98 ; pecu- 
liarity of English method, its trans- 
parency, 99. See Receipts 26, 27 

Linton, Mr., Paper by, i. 168 note 

Lippi, Filippo, i. 219 note 

Lippo, Memmi, i. 147 

Lithaige (copperas), i. 26, 28, 293, 31 1 , 
312, 351, 363, 527. &« Receipt 81 

Lixivium, i. 156, 157 

" Locking up,** i. 459 

Lombardi, Giambattista, friend of 
Correggio, ii. 232 

London indigo, i. 120 

" London practice," i. 133 

Lonyn of Bruges, i. 248, 275 and note 

Lorenzo, early Venetian painter, ii. 31 

Lucca manuscript, mentioned, i. 21, 
22, 30 ; quotation from, 23 note 

«Lucidie,*' lustrous varnishes, i. 174 

Luini, Bernardo, i. 99; pictures by him 
attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, ii. 

Mabnse, painted in water colours on 
cloth, i. 549 ; two pictures in Hamp- 
ton Court, ii. 48 

Maochia, ii. 355-7 

Madder, i. 116, 117; Mr. Field pre- 
pared for Sir Thomas Lawrence, 
446 note; cultivation in Zealand 
encouraged by Charles V., 451 

MaiFeo Verona, i. 513 

"Magisterium suocini," i. 289, 296, 

Magnesia, i. 342 ; calcined, 347. See 
Receipt 73 

Mainardi, Bastiano, ii. 20 

Majesty, a, i. 170, 480, 551, 553 



Mancop oly, i. 358 and notc^ 359 note 

Maosaert, on RubeDs' ElevatioQ of the 
Cross, 493 note, 497 note ; on Rem- 
brandt, 503 ; ii. 346 note 

Mantegna, Andrea, ii. 223; ''Camera 
dei Sposi," 224-5 ; "Madonna della 
Vittoria," seen by Correggio at Man- 
tua, 228 ; nse of day models, 229 ; 
trium{)h8, 253 

Manuscript, Byzantine or Romaic, 
edited by MM. Didron and 
Durand, i. 21, 79 ; ii. 30, 55 ; Era- 
clius, 21 ; Lucca, 21 , 22 ; Theophilus, 
21 ; Peter de St Audemar, 42, 45 ; 
British Museum, 43, 277, 282; 
Strassburg, 105-26, note, 247, 277 ; 
Montpelier, 288 ; Venetian, 62, 75. 
See Cennini 

Mappse Clavicula, i. 19, 24 note, 30, 
32, 82, 132, 171, 247 

Mariani, Vincenzo, ii. 235 

Masolino, ii. 23, 25 

Masaccio, ii. 23, 25 

Massicot, i. 439 and fioie, 440, 488 

Master Walter, i. 135 

Master William, i. 108 

Mastic, resin, i. 24, 238, 247, 248, 
279, 285 note, 316, 344 ; pulverised, 
477,521. &0 Varnish 

MsAira AND BNU OF ART, ii. 407-11 

Matthioli on Temiz, i. 238 

Medici, Cosmo de\ii. 7, 8, 22, 23, 25 ; 
Giovanni de', 8, 11 note, 22; Lo- 
renso de', 18 ; Pietro de', 21 ; Otta- 
vianode', 189 

Medicamen, i. 4 

Medicine and painting, connection 
between, i. 3 

Meguilp, i. 310, 539 ; ii. 56 and note 

Meire, Gerard Van der, i. 207, 276 

Meister, Stephan, altar-piece in Co- 
logne Cathedral, i. 103, 122 

Melozzo da Forll, fresco of Ascension, 
ii. 224, 225 

Momling, Hans, i. 217, 221 note; pic- 
tures in hospital of St. John, i. 389 ; 
in Portinari Chapel, ii. 2 and note, 
5, 7, 8, 408 

Mengs, Raphael, ii. 211-2; saw Cor- 
reggio's frescoes near, 216, 237 

Mereatanzia, the, ii. 17 

M^rim^e, M., i. 262, 504, 506 note; on 
cracks, 544 

Merrlfield, Mrs., ii. 26 note, 29 fioie, 


Messina, Antonello da, i. 191 ; died at 
Venice, 198 ; epitaph on, 199, 
212; LiFB of,' 201-4, 215, 276 ; ii. 
11-16, 25, 46, 67; at Venice, 82, 

Metallic oxides, i. 364, 365, 486, 523 

Methods, Italian, imported by Fkmish 
and Dutch painters who crossed the 
Alps, i. 309 

Metzger collection, ii. 144 

Mews, Charing Cross, i. 108 

Michael Angelo, opinion on Flemish 
pictures, i. 221 ; ii. 19, 21 ; his 
" Bathing Soldiers," 79 ; ridiculed 
Perugino and Francia, 151 ; con- 
sideiiKl painting on walls sub- 
servient to architecture, 217 ; began 
frescoes in Sistine Chapel too 
small, 219, 404 

Michiels, on picture by Maigaret Van 
E^ck, i. 391 note 

Miniver, origin of word, i. 139 note 

Minium, i. 39, 43, 45, 76, 351 ; wash- 
inff it, 425, 445, 450; used alone by 
old masters, 452 

Modona Gallery, ninety-nine pictures 
from, sold to Dresden, ii. 241 

Monks, the artists of the early ages, 
i. 5, 11 

Monsignore, i. 212 note 

Montabert wax painting, i 164; on 
encaustic, 273 note 

Montorfani, his fresco in S. Maria 
delle Gnude, ii. 113-4 

Montefeltro, Federigo da, ii. 15 

Mordants for gilding, i. 21, 66, 71, 
533. See Receipt 19 

Morelli, i. 217 

Moreni, Professor, ii. 271 

Moretto, ii. 357 

Moor, Karel de, 410 note 

Mucilage, i. 324 

Mummy cloth, analysis of, i. 162; 
case**, 369, 465 

Munich, i. 142 

** Murano, Antonius de," i. Ill 

Muratori, treatise on various arts 
published by, i. 21 

Murillo, ii. 313 

Mytens, i. 351 ; his receipt for using 
lead, 351 ; observations by, 356 ; 
statement by, 358; to prevent co- 
lours shining, 432 ; on yellow lake, 
440 ; remedy for chilling, 522 ; 
tried white of bismuth, 536 




Nanni, Orosso, a icalptor, anecdote 

of, ii. 6 
Naphtha, i. 162, 166 note, 296, 318, 


NaTUKAL CONTRAffTB, ii. 821-3 
NATC7&4L ■ABKONOES, ii. 318-20 

Nboatitb uohib Azn> shadrs, ii. 3 1 6-8 
Nbutbal mm in wHiTJi and othkr 

DBAPKBUBB^ ii. 361-2 

Newport, Lord, i. 311 

Newton, G. S., ii. 848 

Niciae, i. 172 

Nielli, i. 150 

Norgate, wci^ipt for "waahinff over," 

i. 421-2 and n^U ; memonuMLnm by, 

Northcote, life of Reynolds, i. 228, 

489 note, 467 ; on Reynold*, 603 
" NouchM," i. 126 
Nunea^ Philippe, AfU da Pimtura, i. 

329 note, 367 

Ochre, i. 133 ; better for grinding, 
286 note, 419 ; chiefly relied on for 
flesh, 439, 488 

Oil, " artificial," Hinv on, i. 18 

— , Kuf, i. 16 ; bleaching of, 26 

— , GABTiKn, i. 16 

— , CicnnTic, i. 19 

— , " CoLD-DHAirN," i. 321 

— , Brtiito, known before Christian 
en, i. 13 ; mentioned by Dioscorides, 
16 ; by Oalen, 28 ; by iEtius, fifth 
century, in connection with art, 19, 
49 ; how first need among materials 
for painting, 68 ; immixtnre with 
solid colours, 31, 64-6; modes of 
rendering drying by metallic oxides, 

— , Essential, i. 313, 314; nse of, 
484 ; Tarnish, 486 ; methods of pre- 
paring, 620; Rubens disapproved 
of in final coatings, 621; li 46; 
used by Correggio, 266 

~, HnfTSBED, i. 17, 131, 183, 820, 
326, 344, 369 

— , LiNBBBD, i. 10; first distinctly 
mentioned by ^tins, 20 ; bleached 
in sun, 27 ; complained of by Theo- 
philus. 29 ; Eradius on, 34 ; mode 
of cleaning and drying, 78; Yan- 
dvcVs opinion on, 631 ; Gennini 
directs to be rednced one-half by 
slow boiling to make drying, ii. 
111. iSMRcceipU69,.63, 66, 67,68 


Ou^ Nut rwalnut), i. 16 ; caxyine oil 
preparea from, 16; Galen on, 17, 
18; £tius on, 20-2; Lea da 
Vind on, 22-4, 47; mistaken no- 
tion that Van £y(^ first used it, 
267 note ; older the better, old con- 
sidered by Reynolds a valuable 
gift, 324, 826, 628; apj^ied to 
Raphael's cartoons, 624 ; li. 34 

— ^, Poppy, 16; black, 16; known to 
andents, 17,326, 848, 366; bleached 
in sun, 366, 367 ; introduced latest, 
368 ; white, 369-60 ; preferred by 
Butch painters, 861, and note, 8oe 
Receipts 84, 86 

— , Sbbamocx, 16, 82 

_, Spiu (Uvender), 264, 813-4, 
629 ; used by cabinet-makers, ii. 46 

OiLiNQ OUT, ii. 839-42 

Oil PAumifo, ii. 366 

Oil PAUfTiifo, practised in limited 
manner in beginning of thirteenth 
century, 32; causes of shriv^elied 
surface, 87 ; statement that Giotto 
p&inted in oil, 46 ; sometimes prac- 
tised in Germany, France, and 
Italf during fourteenth century, if 
not Defore— also in England, 48 ; the 
large supplies of oil indicate the 
coarseness of operations, 66; no 
certain examples of pictures in 
fourteenth century in which the 
flesh is executed in oil colours, 71 ; 
partially applied to pictures in 
fourteenth century, 78 ; pmctice of 
oil painting, however needlessly 
troublesome, confirmed in 1400 
by habit of two centuries, 88; 
greater prevalence of oil painting 
in the liorth, compared with Italy, 
94 ; improved oil painting first in- 
troduced about 1410; Hubert Van 
Eyck the real inventor, 190 ; intro- 
duction into Italy, 214; t^e ap- 
parent early connection with mi- 
nuteness of style, 221 ; not looked 
on with favour by Italians, ii. 32 ; 
resistance to humidity its original 
recommendation, 61 

Oldc add, i. 348 

Olbo-resimovs Vbhiclbs, i. 269-319 ; 
still common in seventeenth cen- 
tury, 486 ; confined in Italy to co- 
lours of little substance, 487 ; ii. 




" Oleum " only olive oil meant by, i. 

18, 160- 
''Oleum cnuwum/* i. 81 
" Oleum Hni/*i. 34 
" Oleum pictorum," i. 86 
" Oleum preciosum/' i. 180 
Olio d' abete, or d' abeaszo, or fir resin, 

i. 472; VAninsH PiixPA.aBD fkom, 

481-2 ; experiments with, 481 ; 

cause of preservation of Correggio's 

pictures, 482. See Receipt 110 
Oho di sasso, ii. 101,267 
Ornaments, embossed, i. 124 ; small, 

in pictures, prominence of, ii. 45 
Orpiment, i. 132, 249; the better for 

being ground, 419 ; commonly used 

in dinperies, 446 ; Jansen*s mode 

of using it, 447, 634, 546. See 

Beceipt 94 
Orvieto, Pietro di, picture by, at Pisa, 

i. 146, 147 ; Duomo of, 162 ; wax 

painting, 170 
Ottley's Italian School of Design, i. 402 
Ottley, Warner, Esq., i. 266 
Ottley, W. Young, Esq., L 266 
0udi7, i. 637 
Overbeck, ii. 313 note 
Orerstone, the Lord, ii. 346 
Oxides, metallic, for drying oils, i. 

348,366 ; of mercury, 356, 364, 366, 

486, 623 

Pacheco, i. 347, 363, 379 note, 402 
note, 431 ; on distilled yeniigris, 468 

Padre Oesuato, i. 327 

Paduanino, ii. 361 

Panted Chamber (or King's GhambeT), 
works in, i. 60-3 

"Painters, oil," i. 67 

Palette, not in use at beginning of 
fifteenth century, i. 401 and note, 404 

'< Palette k poign6e," i. 401 note 

PAunrrs knifb, ii. 376-7 

Palgrave, Sir Francis, statutes of 
Sienese painters, i. 661 

Palomino, i. 336, 368, 386 ; on laige 
palette, 401 note, 404, 405 note ; on 
pictures in sun, 616 

Panels, i. 69 ; preparation for, 371 ; 
directions for, in archives of Ihiomo 
Treviso, 372, 373-7; Modr of 
8TBBNOTHBNINO, 415-7 ; Flemish 
method of beginning works on, ii. 63 

Panshanger, ii. 160; pictures of Life 
of Joseph by Andrea del Sarto, 201 

Parchment, preparation, i. 69; cut- 
tings, 106; uses of, by English 
painters, 113; '*scrow," synonym 
for, 113. See Receipts 9, 10, 11 

Parmigianino, Cupid making his Bow, 
ii. 238, 369 

Parquetting, i. 416 ; ii. 131 note 

Passavant, M., i. 159, 160 note, 216 

Pausias, pictures of, i. 162 

"Pegola,'*or " pece Greca," i. 166, 249 ; 
ii. 28. See Receipt 39 

"Pellis"(leather), 1. 59 

Penicillum, i. 158 

Penni, Francesco, ii. 170 

Pensabene, Fra Marco, i. 372 

"Pentimenti," ii. 165, 207, 238, 268-9, 

Perugino, Pietro, i. 6 ; merits of, 7 note ; 
picture by, in Louvre, ii. 66, 78- 
9 ; learnt chiefly from Leonardo in 
school of Verocchio, 80, 124 ; could 
only acquire knowledge of oil paint* 
ingin Florence, 125 ; earliest work 
in Florence a fresco, 126 ; many of 
his pictures not dated, 127 ; sup- 
posed imitation of Signorelli, 127 ; 
his best works, 128-32; history of 
one of his pictures, 129 note; usual 
form of his altar-pieces, 133 ; the 
work in which Raphael assisted, 
133 ; his three altar-pieces in S. 
Qiusto alle Mura, 134 ; Vasari's 
description of process, 134 ; his flesh 
tints thin, 136 ; Crucifixion in Ia 
Calza, 136; Piet4, now in Pitti, 
137; pictures of him in Vatican, 
1 37-8 ; Ascension at Lyons, 138-9 ; 
picture of Sposalizio at Caen, 140 ; 
of Nativity in Louvre, 141 ; Assump- 
tion in Florentine Academy, 142; 
system of hatching explained by his 
habits as tempera painter, 142-3 ; 
doubtful whether certain of his 
works are in tempera or oil, 143 ; 
possible reason for occasional union 
of tempera and oil painting, 146 ; 
practice in oil differed from Leo- 
nardo and Lorenzo di Credi in treat- 
ment of flesh, 145; superior as 
colourist to both, 145; fearlessly 
used rich varnishes, 146 ; supposed 
parsimonious habits, 146 ; supposed 
influence on Francia, 148, 197, 203 

Pescara, Marchesti, i. 222 note 

Pesello, Francesco di, ii. 23, 26 




" PMri," i. 80, 81, 85, 2^ note 

Petpini, ii. 41 

Petroleum (olio di sasso), ii. 101, 267 

Vetworth, i. 38 

Pharmaka, i. 4, 162 

Pharmakeia, i. 4 

" Pharmakon," meaning of, i. 163 

Phillips, SirThoB., Bart., MS. in pos- 
Beesion of, i. 19 note 

Physicianb and painters, early bond 
between, i. 4 

" Pictora translucida," i. 74 

Pigments, cost of, charged to employer, 
1. 11, 270; prepantion of, 420; 
causes of changes in, 434 ; dura- 
bility of, 436 

Pintunochio, works at Siena, i. 147 

Piombo, Seb. del, picture of Flagella- 
tion, ii. 116,184,280 

"Pissoceros,"!. 165 

Plaster of Paris, i. 112, 370 

Pliny, remarks on tragacanth and 
Rhodian glue, i. 4 ; description of 

V Tarnish used by Apelles, 14 ; on me- 
dicinaloiTs, 18 ; on tempera, 100; on 
egg vehicle, 101 ; on juice of fig-tree, 
102 ; on wax painting, 149, 151 ; 
on bleaching wajc, 156 ; on encaus- 
tic, 161 noUt 166 and note; on Tar- 
nish of Apelles, 173 note, 176 note ; 
on glessnm, 288 ; on amber, 289 ; 

^ on an ancient varnisTi, ii..31 note 

PoUaiuolo, Antonio, ii. 16 ; picture of 
St. Sebastian by, 18 ; t^is picture 
early specimen of Florentine oil 
painting, 71 ;of St. Christopher by, 
18, 19, 20 ; pictures of Virtues, 72 ; 
Acts of Hercules, 72 ; followed the 
Flemish process, 74 ; saw in oil the 
qualities opposed to tempera — ^see 
his Annunciation at Berlin, 74 note, 
78, 81 ; his style bold and without 
retouching, 84 

Pollux, Julius, i. 156 

Polyptych, Van Eyck's, at Ghent, i,480 

Pompeii, paintings at, how executed, 
i. 144 

Pontormo, ii. 201 note 

Pope Eugenius IV., ii. 28 

Pope Martin V., fresco of consecration 
by, and anecdote of, ii. 3 

Poplar, white, pvirous nature of, i. 376 

Pordenone, ii. 197, 220 

Porschinen, Christian, rendered am- 
ber colourless, i. 310 note 


Portinari, Chapel, i. 220; Folco de', 
founded hospital of, ii. 1 ; history 
of family and chapel, ii. 1-11 ; 
agents for the Medici, 8; PigeUo 
d' Adoardo, 8-11 ; Tommaso de', 7, 
9-10 ; Folco Antonio Maria de\ 9 ; 
GioTanni de', 9 ; Bernardo de', 9 

Portman, M, i. 442, 521 

Portugal, grain of, i. 116 

Portuguese painters, the Flemish style, 
i. 218 

Pourbus, the dder, 370 note 

Poussin, ii. 405 

Pourtal^, Count, collection of, ii. 15 

Pratoneri family, ii. 246 

Praxiteles, i. 172 

Precipitate, red, i. 365. iS^ Receipt 83 

Pbsparatioit of Colovks, i. 418-78 

Preparation of surface for painting, 

" Principe," ii. 23 

Protogenes, i. 167 

Puccini, ii. 17 

Pumice-stone, i. 142, 344. See Receipt 

Pungileoni, iL 210 

" Punteggiare,*'(to stipple) i. 411 

Quercitron bark, i. 441 

Raczynski, Comte A., work, i. 221 note 

Raleigh, Sir Walter, i. 298 

Raphael, i. 7, 98 ; state of panel in 
Transfiguration, 373 ; Richardson 
on his St. Cecilia being "fried " with 
candles, 373 note {see same, ii. 76) ; 
story of " Spasimo di Sicilia," 377 
and note; St. Luke painting Vir- 
gin, 403 ; bad effect of lamp-black 
in Transfiguratif>n, 462 ; cartoons 
rubbed with nut oil, 524; portrait of 
Julius II. in National Gallery, ii.43; 
" Belle Jardiniere," Louvre, 66; St, 
Catherine in National Gallery, 58 ; 
his hand apparent in certain works 
by Perugino, 133 ; early works re- 
semble Perugino in technical parti- 
culars, 153; his first style confirmed 
by Fra Baitolommeo, 163 ; adopted 
the more solid manner of Leomudo, 
153 ; patchings observable in early 
pictures, 163-4 ; first altar-piece, 
Crucifixion, and characteristics of its 
treatment, 1 54-7 ; Coronation of tlio 
Virgin in Vatican, and its charac- 




teristicB, 157, 170 ; three Predella 
pictures in Vatican, and characteris- 
tics, 158-9 ; Vision of a Knight, in 
Nat Gallery, and characteristics, 
159 ; " Sposalizio," Brera, 159 ; in- 
fluence of Florentine examples, 1 60 ; 
smaller Madonna and Child at Fans- 
hanger, 160 ; Ansidei altar-piece at 
Blenheim, and characteristics, 160- 
1 ; St Catherine in National Gal- 
lery, 162 ; Entombment in Borghese, 
162 ; larger Madonna and Child at 
Panshanger, 163-4; "Belle Jardi- 
niere," Louyre, 163-4; painted flesh 
Mrith substance, 164-5 ; adhered to 
his outline, 165 ; aimed at solidity for 
its own sake, 165-7 ; portraits by 
him solidly painted, 167; oil pic- 
tures painted in Rome, " Vierge au 
Diad&me " in Louyre, Madonna and 
Child in Stafford Gallery, and " Ma- 
donna di Foligno," 167-8; Madonna 
and Child in Bridgevater Gallery, 
168; towards close of life assisted 
by numerous scholars, 168 ; flesh 
more thickly painted, 168-9 ; St. 
Michael in Louvre, 169 ; " Madonna 
della Sedia" in Pitti, 169; Trans- 
figuration, 169 ; pictures transferred 
from wood to aoth, bad effects of, 
169; Coronation of Virgin com- 
pleted after his death by Giulio 
Komano and Francesco Penni, 170; 
his main characteristics, 170; Va- 
sari gives ^rst place to him, 171 ; 
Mass of Bolsena and Heliodorus, 
172, 220; finishes design of 
picture in S. Romano for Fra Bar- 
tolommeo, 183 ; finished St Peter 
and St. Paul for same — his great 
dexterity, 186-6 ; copy of his LeoX. 
by Andrea del Sarto, 203 ; his fol- 
lowers retained the solid system, 
204 ; considered painting on walls 
subservient to architecture, 21 8, 405 
Riispe, i. 21 note, 33, 370 note 

^ Receipt 1. Mappee Clavicula, "to ren- 
, der a picture waterproof," i. 19 

^' 2. ^tius, for walnut-oil, 20 
• 3. Lucca MS., 23 note 
./ 4. Diosoorides, for bleaching oil, 

5. Galen, for drying oil, 28 

6. Eradius, for preparation of 
stone for ptiinting, 34 






U 12. 




^ 16. 




^ 20. 


\/ 22. 

u 23. 






; 29. 


iEtius, for preparation of wood 
for painting, 35-6 
Theophilus, monk, for oil paint- 
ing, 39-41 

Peter de St Audemar, for illu- 
minating on parchment, 48 
Another, 44 

British Museum MS., for paint- 
ing on parchment, wood, and 
walls, 44 

Eradius, " How to render oil 
fit for mixing with colours," 63 
Cennini, " How to paint in oil 
on walls, on panels," &c., 65 
Cennini, "Preparation of walls 
for painting in oil," 66 
Cennini, "How to prepare an 
oil fit for tempering colours, 
and also for mordants, by boil- 
ing it over the fire," 66 
Cennini, " How to prepare good 
and perfect oil by baking it in 
the sun," 67 

Cennini, " How to grind colours 
in oil, and use them on walls," 

Cennini, " How to paint in oil 
on iron, panels, and stone," 69 
Cennini, for mordants, 71 ; for 
mordants under gilding used 
with glass, 75 

Cennini, oil painting for deco- 
rative parts of picture, 71-2 
De Mayeme, for gold and silver 
munds, 74 

Byzantine MS., for preparing 
oil in sun, 80 

St Audemar, to make the sur- 
fi^e shine, 83 

Venetian MS., for grinding 
certain colours in oil, 87 
Venetian MS., " To prepare a 
powder for engraving on iron," 

Alcherius, for painting on liu en . 

Venetian MS., for preparing 
transparent colours for painting 
on cloth, 98 

Strassburg MS., for employ- 
ment of honey in painting, 1 06 
Venetian MS., "How to pre- 
pare oil for the colours," 130 
Strassburg MS., preparation of 
the gold size, 136-7 




31. Stnssbug MS., *' How to gUd, 

&c.," 187 
82. Modenii for practudng fresco, 

88. Modem, for solution of wax, 156 
34. Byzantme MS., for wax paint- 
ing, 168 
/ 35. Le Begne, for "liqnid fit to 
temper all coloars," 159>60 
36. Modern, for cleaning wax paint- 
ings, 168 note 
^ 37. S^retif "To make Vemice li- 

qoida," 241 
>'38. Secreti, "To make a superior 

Vemice liquida," 241-2 
^ 89. Pacheco, for ordinary varnish, 

40. Byzantine MS. for preparing 
" pegola," 249 

41. Modern, for reducing fir resin, 

V 42. Venetian MS., '* To make Paint- 
er's Varnish," 251 

'. 43. Strassburg MS., " How to make 
a good yamish of three mate- 
rials," 279-80 

44. Strassburg MS., for a gold 
lacker, 281 

45. Do Ketham, *' To make a com- 
position which serves for all 
colours," 283 

46. De Ketham, composition for 
printing cloth, 284--5 note 

^^ 47. Libavius, for dissolving amber, 

48. Strassburpf MS., for dissolving 
amber twice, 293 

49. Ferobach, for preventing dis- 
colouration of amber, 294 

60. Baptista Porta, for magisterium 
of amber, 297 

61. Medical MS., British Museum, 
for same, 298 

'^ 62. De Mayeme, for preparing a 
vamish, 298-9 

53. Modem MS., "To make Van- 
dyck's drying oil," 307 
< 64. Same, "To make Vandyck's 
mastic varnish," 307-8 

55. De Mayeme, " Biying oil more 
siccative than any other," 311 

56 Smith's Art of Paiyitinfft var- 
nish to preserve wood, 317 note 

57. Leo. da Vinci, extract of nut 
oil, 321, 322 


58. Padre Oesuato, for purifying 
oil, 327 

59. Philippe 'Nunes, " To purifjr 
Linseed oil for whites and 
blues,** 329 

60. Dreme, for washing oil, 330-1 

61. Same, the same on a small 
scale, 331 

62. Same, to obtain vamish from, 
oil, 332-3 

63. De Mayeme, "Linseed or nut 
oil bleached and well cleansed *' 
with bread-crumbs, 335 

64. M. Adam, for purifying oil 
with bread-cmmbs, 836 

65. De Mayeme from My tens, " Co- 
louriess and thin linseed oil" 
by sand, 837 

66. Van Somer, for filtering oil, 

67. De Mayeme, Vandyck's re- 
ceipt for purifying linseed oil, 

68. Same, firom Sorg, for bleaching 
linseed or nut oil in a month, 

69. Fembach, for manufacture of 
bright oil varnishes, 340 note 

70. Boltzen, for calcined bones as 
a powei^ dryer, 343 

71. Same, for use of pumice-stone, 

72. English student at Leyden, 
wood-ashes for drying oils, 346 

73. Modern, to clear oil with 
magnesia, 347 

74. Pacheco, for use of spirit of 
wine, 347 

76. Modem, for use of white cop- 
peras in clearing oil, 348-9 

76. Fembach, for same, 349 note 

77. Sorg, for use of lead for drying 
oil, 851 

78. My tens, for same, 351 

79. Dieterich, Beuss, for same, 352 

80. Same, for using touchwood for 
drying oil, 352 

81. Van Somer, for using lithaige 
for clearing oil, 353 

82. Dreme, to pre vent carbonisation 
of oil, 353-4 

83. Modem, for use of red precipi- 
tate, oxide of mercury, 365 

' 84. Mytens, for bleaching poppy 
oil, 356 





"^ 85. 
^ 87. 







*/ 96. 





V 102. 

V 103. 

V 104. 






Flemiflh MS., for soUdiflcation 
of drying oils, 357 
Mytens for rendering ** manoop 
oly •* (poppy oil) diying, 858 
Cenniui, for painting in oil on 
vallB, 384 

Noigate, for "washing over/* 

Venetian MS., " To purify ver- 
milion," 424 

De Mayerne, on washing, 426 
De Mayerne, to prevent colours 
fading, 431 

Same, on using- gamboge and 
amber, 442-3 

Same, for using amber with 
transparent yellows, 444 
Sam^. Jansen, for using oipi- 
ment, 447 

Same, Feltz of Ck>nstanoe, "An 
excellent mode for rendering 
indigo, yellow lake, and lake 
permanent in oil," 454 
Same, for securing blue, 455 
Portman, the same, 455 
Venetian MS., for spreading 
orange colour, 456 
De Mayerne, Bouffikult, for *' a 
beautiful green," 461 
Same, for using asphaltum, 463 
Modem, for asing asphaltum in 
Vandyck brown, 464 
De Mayerne, for varnishing, 

Armenini, use of essential-oil 
varnish, 471 

De Mayerne, *' Incomparable 
Varnish " of turpentine resin, 

Same, Sir Nathaniel Bacon's 
varnish, 473 

Van Somer, for varnish of 
Venice turpentine, 474 
Van Belcamp, for same, 474 
De Mayerne^ "very good var^ 
nish used by M. Adam, dear 
as water, and drying in three 
hours," 476-7 
Hoogstraaten's varnish, 477 
Vem, for olio d* abezeo, 482 
Norgate, "To refresh oyl pic- 
tures whose colours are faded,'* 

De Mayerne, for eesential-oil 
vamisb, 520 

118. Same, varnish to resist humidity, 

114. Same, to prevent varnish crack- 
ing, 622 

115. Same, Mytens, to prevent var- 
nish chilling, 522 

116. Borghini, for varnish, ii. 109 
Bed, the word, how applied, i. 118; 

precipitate, 356; explanation of, 
448; red lake, brown reds, 452; 
Indian red, 452 

Bembrandty his practice, 407; anec- 
dote of, 478 ; rarely blended his 
colours, 508 ; his varnish, 506 ; 
stoiy of portrait of servant, 514 ; ii. 
75 note, 266, 303, 307, 322, 325, 
344-7, 351, 405 

BsHBDiBS, iL 388-9 

Ben6, King, i. 215-^, 264, 272; ii. 
11 naU 

Requeno, i. 156 

Besin, used early, i. 14, 18, 164, 249, 
250; used by Van Eyck, 258; 
white, 274, 285 note; turpentine, 
product of silver fir, 472 

Beuss Dieterich, receipt for using 
white lead, i. 352 

Beynolds, Sir Joshua, i. 37 ; estimate 
of old nut oil, 324 ; canvas covered 
with patches of colour, 444 ; dislike 
to vermilion, 449 note; results of 
experiments, 451, 489 note, 497. 
Extracts fbom Notbs of, 538-46 ; 
defects in his practice, 544; judi- 
cious mixture of Italian and Flemish 
practice, 546 ; ii. 75 note, 207 note ; 
opinion of Gorreggio's system, 254, 
260; on Adonis of Titian, 255; 
advice to his scholars to use few 
colours, 255-6, 257, 800, 307, 308 
note, 310, 311, 322, 367, 375, 384, 
396 noU, 399 

Bhabdion, i. 153 

Bicbard II., canopy of tomb of, i. 177 

Bidolfi, ii. 14 note, 46, 358, 396 

Bobbia, Luca della, i. 370 

Boger van der Weyden (same as Boger 
of Bruges), i. 97, 217 ; ii. 23, 25 

Bomulus, apotheosis of, i. 479 

Bosetta, i. 124 

Boeselli, Cosimo, ii. 19, 177 

Bosselli, Timoteo, aecreti of, i. 240 

"Boyal paper," i. 113 

Bubens, i. 300; preferred panel for 
small pictures, 371, 407 ; preferred 




white ground, 388; Judgment of 
Paris by, 888, 483 note ; " Maxims ** 
of, 491 ; Elevation of Cross, 493 
note; always decided his com- 
position, 494; on placing pictures 
in sun, 615; letter to Sir Dudley 
Carleton, 616 ; letter to Peiresc, 
617; opinion on ''varnish of Ck>r- 
reiggio," 620 ; opinion on essential- 
oil varnishes, 621, 526; approved 
of drying oil prepared with litharge, 
627-3 1 ; ii. 40 and noto, 47 ; picture of 
wife and child at Blenheim, state of, 
76 note, 187 note, 190, 204,220, 267» 
322, 330, 333, 382-4 

BiMgieri, Maestro (Roger of Bruges, 
Roger van der Weyden), ii. 23, 64 

Rumohr, ii. 183 

Bust, i. 440 

"Sad," to saturate, i. 119 

Saffiron, i. 441 

St. Albans, Hugh of^ painter, i. 68 

St. Audemar, Peter de, i. 31, 42, 44, 
64, 83, 117, 226, 243 

S. Jaoopo, chapelof, at Pistoia, i. 47, 1 1 

St. Luke, as a painter and physician, 
i. 6 ; painting Virgin, holding shell 
in hand, 402-3 

S. Maria Nuova, hospital of, ii. 1; 
Florentine Academy in, 2-4 

S. Michele in Orto, ii. 17 

S. Miniato al Monte, ii. 16 

S. Miniato tn le Torn, ii. 19 

St. Stephen's Chapel, Westminster, 
decorations of, i. 31 ; oil supplied 
for, 49, 66-7 ; remains of painted 
glass, 77, 113, 116, 120; profuse 
use of gilding, 123 ; decoration of, 
important event in history of 
Northern art, 134, 135 ; white var- 
nish supplied, 276 

Sal ammoniac, ii. 36 note 

Salt, i. 830, 332, 334, 336 

Sand, use of, 382, 334, in time of 
Rubens, 337 

Sandarac as material (as varnish, eee 
" Vemice liquida"), i. 24, 61, 66 ; 
many significations of name, ii. 32 ; 
derivations, 233; commonly sub- 
stituted for amber, 235; word 
moans a red colour, 236; greater 
facility in dissolving, and cheap- 
ness, 236 ; ** vernice common syn- 
onym for, 237-40; ii. 27 ; put for 


juniper, 238; the orpiment of the 
Greeks, 249; "Qrassa," Spanish 
term for, 243 ; mentioned in Wei*t- 
minster accounts, 247; pulverised, 
261; "vemice liquida," composed 
of three parts linseed oil, one part 
sandarac, 263 ; its traditional es- 
timation, 264 ; dissolved in spike 
oil or alcohol not durable; boiled 
in fixed oil extremely so, 264 ; men- 
tioned^ 281, 306; ordinair repre- 
sentative both of copal and amber, 
816 ; mentioned, 621 ; mentioned, 
li. 26-9 and note; mentioned, 74, 109 

Sandaracha, i. 236 ; illinere, 236 

Sandrart, i. 101, 111 

Santi, Giovanni, i. 218 ; poem of acts 
of Federigo da Montefeltro, ii. 78 note 

SaiBcinesca, explanation of, i. 76 

Saracini, Gabriello, i. 73 

Sarto, Andrea del, ii. 171; first ap- 
pears as oil painter with Francia- 
big^o, 200 ; pictures of History of 
Joseph, and note, 201 ; preparations 
in dead colour, 202 ; Adoration of 
Magi, unfinished, 202; Holy Family 
in Louvre, 202 ; copy of Raphaera 
Leo X., 203, 386 

Savonarohi, ii. 84, 172, 176 

Sche£Eer, i. 326 

Schiavone, ii. 368 

Schoppenhauer, Joanna, i. 396 note 

Schoreel, i. 309 

Schroder, on juniper, i. 239 

" Scrow," synonymous with parchment, 
i. 113 

" Secco," or lime painting, i. 148 

"Scudegriin" (yellow lake), i. 441 noU, 
464 note 

ScuiCBLiira and kktouchino, ii. 366-6 

■^ Secreti," i. 8, 34, 93, 133, of Rosselli, 
240 ; of Padre Geeuato, ii. 110, 146 

Seghers, Daniel, i. 308 

Sesto, Cesare da, Judith at Vienna, ii. 

Sforza, Francesco, ii. 21-3 

"Sfumato," ii. 104, 206, 291,293,366 

Sgraffiti, i. 160 

Shadows, i. 496, 496; warm, 497; 
negative nature of, 497. 498 

Sheldrake, ii. 36 note; result of ex- 
periments by, 61 

Shells, used by encaustic painters, i. 
401 ; St. Luke painting Virgin, 
402, 422, 423 




•Ships, YarDiBhed and paiated, i. 164 ; 

167 and note 
Shot used, i. 365 
Silver, leaf, i. 123-4 


Sinopia, better for being ground, i. 419 
"Sinopi8,"i. 116, 118 
Sinople, ii. 80 

Sinopre, madder lake, i. 116 
Size painting, i. 62-7, 100, 102; 

parchment, 112, 309; gold, 136; 

origin of word, 1 13-4 note ; vehicle, 

129 (M0 Tempera), 169; ii. 136. See 

Beceipt 30 
Smalt, i. 386, 428; dr^, 466, 630 
Smith's Antiquities of Westminster, i. 

49, 77 note 
Smith's Art o/Paintil^ in Oyl, i. 312, 

Zn note, dlS note 
Suderini, Gt>nfaloniere, ii. 188 
Solly, Mr., i. 103 
Sorg, i. 336 ; his receipt for using lead, 

Spacb, ii. 328-6 
Spanish painters allied to Flemish 

stvle, i. 218 
Spirit of wine, L 348, 629. 8fe Be- 
ceipt 74 
Spranger, i. 397 
Squarcione, i. 99 
Stag's horn calcined, i. 138 
Stamps, or patterns, impressions of, on 

gilt grounds, i. 124 
Stecca, a (wood or horn scraper), i. 876 
Stradanus, i. 196 
Stump, the, iL 262 


Sublime, idea of, ii. 299 
Suhrland, painter, i. 837 
Summonzio, a writer, i. 215-6 
Sun, placing pictures in, i. 61 1 
Synapour, i. 119 

Tambioni, i. 162, 226 

Taubenheim, i. 161 

Taroletta (palette), i. 401 note 

Tempera, moveable pictures of ancients 
in, i. 14 ; traditional estimation of, 
25 ; mentioned, 62, 63 ; finer work 
of, executed with egg vehicle, 67 ; 
parchment preparation, on English 
tempera, 69 ; difficult in some cases 
to distinguish from oil colours, 60 ; 
more important parts of pictures 


executed in, ii. 84 ; English and Gor- 
man process, 94 ; tempera painting 
on cloth common in Netherlands in 
beginning of fifteenth centuzy, 97 ; 
how distinguished £rom Italian, 98 ; 
mentioned, 99 ; Enoush axd Ger- 
man Tbxpera., 100-111 ; meaning 
of word, 100; yolk of egg chief 
ingredient, 101 ; nature of Italian 
tempera, 102 ; old Rhenish painters 
in, 103, 106; juice of fig-tree, 
104; pictures by Crivelli in, 110. 
OthbbEkoubhMbthods, 111; men- 
tioned, 142; as employed with fresco, 
147; frescoes b^ Hnturicchio at 
Siena, completed in, 147, 148 ; Greek 
tempera pictures, 173 ; much es- 
teemed, 176 ; adopted by Cimabue, 
202; Yasari on inconveniences of, 
219 ; mentioned, 224 ; tempera pic- 
tures alwavs varnished with " ver- 
nice liquida," 226, 229, 263 ; pale 
Italian tempera, 262 ; " strong tem- 
pera," 261 ; tempera pictures, how 
varnished, 271 ; mentioned, 313 ; 
hatching in, 410, 411 ; mentioned, 
418, 430, 627,-633; affected by 
damp in northern countries, 660; 
two pictures in Berlin Gallery, partly 
in tempera, partly in ofl, ii. 20; 
mentioned, 26, 32-8, 89, 62 ; better 
fitted for partial gilding, 63 ; men- 
tioned, 64 ; Becc^Eiuni returned to, 
77 ; pictures by Lorenzo di Credi in, 
82 ; mentioned, 122 ; Perugino's 
practice in, 142 ; early works by 
Bellini in, 144; BaphaeFB fintt 
essays probably in, 163; pictures in, 
by Gorreggio, 249, 261, 263 

Teniers, David, i. 336 and note, 484, 
486 note ; Descamps on, 498 

Terra Verde, i. 457, 462 

Tertullian, i. 162 

Tbxturb, &c., 364-6 

Theodoric of Flanders, an embroiderer, 
i. 96, 114 

Theophilus, i. 29, 31, 82, 38 ; treatise 
by, 38; of some country north of 
Alps, 42, 44, 47; passage in, as 
proof of early use of oil, 60, 143 ; on 
'* incaustum," 161, 286 note; on 
folium, 426 note 

Theotonicns, Frater, taught the mode 
of preparing a blue colour, i. 90, 98, 




Thuja articulata (sandarae resin), i. 

282-3, 238 
Tiarini, Alexander, i. 368 
Tinfoil, to imitate gold, i. 30, 39, 60, 1 24 
Tintoret, i. 496; u. 278, 280, 879 
Titian, his St. Sebastian, arrangement 
of panel, i. 878 note; ii. 341 ; stoiy 
of picture of Paul III., 513 ; pic- 
ture of Assumption burnt by candies, 
ii. 76, 190, 197, 220, 278, 805, 329, 
366, 358, 364, 367, 381, 395, 396, 397 


Torre Flaminio, ii. 241 
Toschi, Cavaliere, 235 note, 271 
Tragacaath (gum), i. 4, 542 
Transparent eflects, i. 887 ; ii. 73 

TB4K8PABBirr PAIKTINO, ii. 849-52 

"Trattemare*' (to hatch),!. 102, 411 
Troviso^ Puomo, archiyes of, 372 ; di- 
rections for preparing panels, i. 372 
Tripier-Deyeauz, writer, i. 295 note, 

829 note 
TfUFTTCHs, UflB of, i. 479-80 
Tubes, metal, best for keeping colours, 

i. 405 note 
Turin, galleiy at» picture by Memling 

in, ii. 8 
Turner, J. W. M., R.A., ii. 281 
Turpentine resin, or '* glorie»" i. 247 ; 
concrete, or " white resin," 247 ; 
"peceGreca,"251.258; or^gloriat," 
279, 280 ; oU of, 292, 301 ; essential 
oil of, 292, 295, 300, 818 ; puri- 
fied, 305, 316; produce of silver 
fir, 472 ; Venetian, produce of larch, 
472, 539; Strassburg, 472 note; 
Rubens on spirit of, 529 ; Reynolds 
used Venetian turpentine, 339, 342, 
343, 344. See Receipts 104, 106 

Ubertini, see Bacchiaoca, II 

TJocello, Paolo, tired of cheese, 373 

note, 413 note 
Ugo d' Anrem (Van der Goes, Hugo) 

ii. 5 
Umber, i. 868, 462 
Uffig, gallery of; ii. 17 
Ultramarine, i. 9, 362, 420; ii. 48, 

146, 175, 254-5; ashes, i. 580 
Urbino, Yr^ Maso da, an illuminator, 

i. 92 

Vaio, tail of animal used for gilding, 
i. 189 note 


Vandyck (brown), i. 462 ; communi* 
cations from, 534-6 ; ii. 190, 256 

Van Eyck, i. 15 ; mentioned, 24 ; 
consulted classic authorities, 25 ; 
mentioned, 31; placed picture in 
sun to dry, 41 ; ii. 33 ; men- 
tioned, 70, 81, 84, 88, 97, 175. Ac- 


nco, 182-218 ; improTement, not in- 
vention, of oil used in painting, 
183; mentioned by Facius, 183 ; 
Vasari's account of Van Eyck's in- 
vention, 184 ; monument to Hubert 
Van Eyck, 184; epitaph, 185; the 
real improver, 190 ; his figures in 
Ghent altar-piece, 190 note; name not 
mentioned in first edition of Vasari, 
191 ; bones of hand and aim still 
preserved in sixteenth centuiy, 
192 ; mentioned, 197, 199 ; ground 
for beliering Vasari's account of Van 
£yck*s method collect, 200 ; Vasari's 
account of invention attributed to 
Van Eyck in his life of AntoneUo da 
Messina, 201 ; mentioned, 216, 218, 
221 ; his St. Jerome in possession of 
Lorenzo de' Medici, 220 note; su- 
perior firmness of pictures, 228; 
prepared varnish tod^in the shade, 
226 ; mixed his colours with var- 
nish, 226; mentioned, 288; suc- 
ceeded in producing the long-desired 
varnish, 257 ; actual state of pic- 
tures, 258 ; mentioned, 260, 261 ; 
his varnish oleo-resinous, 263 ; Hu- 
bert's scholars browner than John's, 
263 ; the art of oil painting began 
with Van Eyck, 265 ; claims as in- 
ventor, 265-7 ; mentioned, 272, 276, 
289, 306 ; use of white copperas, 
one of his probable improvements, 
313; extreme precision of execution, 
313; mentioned, 815; principal 
methods described, 820; system 
influenced perhaps by practioe of 
glass painting, 408 ; mentioned, 419 ; 
Hubert's carnations painted with 
vermilion, 448 ; Ghent sltar-pieoe, 
480 ; kept colours thin, 499 ; men- 
tioned, 509, 512 ; Hubert's claims 
as inventor of new metliod now uni- 
versally admitted, ii. 82 note ; story 
of picture splitting in sun, 33 ; first 
experiments, 34 ; probably preferred 
amber, 85-7 ; Hubert's practioe, 38 




Van Eyck, John, date of biitb nnd death, 
i. 186-9; and ii. 11, his epitaph, 
i. 189; mentioned, 190; his works 
alone known in Italy, 190 ; known 
to Ant. da Messina, 191 ; yisit to 
Portugal, 192; mentioned, 193; 
Vasari not the first Italian writer 
who praised him, 194 ; picture 
of "The Bath" by, 220 note, 
413 ; an extraordinary capacity for 
seeing nature^ 267 ; mentioned, 272 ; 
picture in National Gallery, 289, 
414 ; green drapery in, ii. 48 note ; 
mentioned, i. 309, 310 ; painted only 
on wood, 371 ; picture in Nataonid 
Gallery, how protected, 874 ; picture 
in Antwerp Gallery, 881; ii. 66; 
his dead colour, 395 ; picture belong- 
ing to Lucas de Heere^ 395 ; least 
successful in delicate carnations, 
400 ; picture of St Luke painting the 
Virgin, 403 ; his imperfections, 410 ; 
wrought as an illuminator, 411; 
qualities in colour, 411-2; power 
of representing depth, 413; dis- 
carded gold grounas, 446 ; men- 
tioned, ii. 6 ; Lee troia Frkres Van 
B^k, par FAbb^ Carton, 1 1 note, 33 
note ; date of death, 1 1 ; men- 
tioned, 26 ; blending of his colours, 
64 ; Vasari on firmness of his 
▼amish, 67 ; mentioned, 89, 886, 

Van Evck, Margaret, 391 note 

Van Ghent, Justus, picture of, at Ur- 
bino, i. 217, 218 ; ii. 16, 16 note 

Van der Goes, Hugo, i. 220 note, 276 ; 
tripUch by, at Florence, 627 ; ii. 
2 ; description of triptych, 6, 11 

Van Gool, 410 note ; on cartoons, i. 624 

Van Goyen, cause of fading of pic- 
tures, i. 463 

Van Leyden, Lucas, ii. 204 

^an Mander, Schilder-Boeck, yeraes 
from, i. 380 ; on difficulty of using 
'smalt, 386, 389, 390 note; 392, 
394 and noU ; his life, 396, 396 ; on 
design, 397 ; on vermilion, 438-9 and 
note, 448; recommends that colours 
should be laid up in store, 386, 489 

Vannegre, a Walloon painter, i. 369 

Van Orley, Bemhazd, i. 446 

Van Somer, i. 338, 363, 474 

Van Strij, imitator of Cuyp, i. 302 


Varnishes, oil, of some kind, in use 
among the Greeks, i 14 ; used in 
fifth century for gilt ornaments and 
pictiires, 21, 22, 61, 66 ; coarse, ap- 
plied to ships, 164 ; first employed 
&r from light in colour, 269 ; tinged 
by medisBTal painters, 270 ; diluted, 
274 ; tendency to flow, 263-4 ; use 
of, with colours considered unne- 
cessary in Italy in sixteenth century, 
except when work exposed to damp, 
ii. 70 

— , Amber, i. 233 ; always consi- 
dered the Grerman Tarnish, 234 ; dif- 
ference between amber and copal 
scarcely to be traced in ancient re- 
ceive, 234, 286; test of, 235; 
denration of name, 236 ; not used 
in England, apparently, at early 
period, 246; amber and sandarac 
never very clearly distinguished, 
263 ; mentioned, 281 ; costly, 282 ; 
mentioned, 284 note; tendency to 
flow, 287 ; where now found, 288 ; 
Pliny on, 289; ii. 270; <* Bern- 
stein,'' i. 288 ; necklaces of, 289 ; 
Falernian, 290 ; used in the North 
at early period, 290 ; discolouration 
of, 291, 293 ; oil of, 292 ; men- 
tioned, 293, 294; modes of dis- 
solving, 296-306; used for lutes 
and musical instruments, 303; by 
Gentileschi, 303, 306, 635; men- 
tioned, 316, 443; efiect of oil in 
dissolving, 318-9; used as sub- 
stitute for magnifying-glasses, 319 ; 
mentioned, 486, 607; probably 
used by Kembrandt, 608 ; objected 
to by Vandyck, 613 ; mentioned, 
636; Humboldt on, ii. 27 note; 
Lewis' solution of, ii. 36 note; 
Sheldrake's experiment with, 36 
note; amber varnish, how made, 60 ; 
colours mixed with, and shut up for 
yean, lose no brilliancy, 61 ; men- 
tioned, 63 ; usually termed in Italy 
*'vemice Uauida gentile," 28, 68; 
used by Bapnael, 166 ; " trees weep 
amber," &c., 270 ; used for Cremona 
instruments, 270 ; discovered by 
analysis in fragment of picture 
supposed to be by Oorreggio, 271. 
^Reoeii>ts 47, 48, 49,60, 61,92,93 

— , Copal, i. 265; mentioned, 290; 
used by Cuyp, 302 note; mentioned. 





608 ; ii. 36-7 ; experiment with, 36 

VarniBhes, Essential oil, painters 
scarcely acquainted with, as applic- 
able to pictures, till dose of fif- 
teenth or beginning of sixteenth 
century, i. 254 ; used by Gorreggio 
and Farmigianino, 471, 507 

— , Italian, i. 470, 525 

— , Mastic {see Mastac resin, and 
White (chiara) varnish), 1. 247-8; in 
demand at early period, 275 ; used 
by Flemish painters, and introduced 
by them into England, 806, 476; 
extracts from Sir Joshua's notes, 
638, 644 

^, Bed, or Sandarac, i. 247, 266, 816; 
ii. 29, 40, 146 

— , Sandarac. See "Yemiee liquida " 
and Sandarac resin 

— , White, or mastic (chiara), supplied 
to painters of St. Stephen's Chapel, 
i. 276; ii. 29, 30, 83, 37, 41, 119, 
124, 146, 236 

Vasari, description of the monVs of S. 
Giusto alle Mura, i. 6, 9 ; mentioned, 
27, 76, 98, 99, 101, 102 ; speaks of 
immixture of honey, 104 ; anecdote 
of Buf&lmaco, 109; mentioned, 112, 
139 ; on fk^soo, 141 ; speaks of Giro- 
lamo da Cotignola, 148. Aoooumt 


DVCKD BT Yak Etcx, 182-218; 
evidence on technical matters, of 
great value, 184; mistake as to 
John Yan Eyck's death, 187, 188 ; 
mentioned, 190, 191 ; his "Lives,** 
1 94 ; in the habit of collecting notes 
for history of art, 196 ; mentioned, 
196, 198, 199, 200 ; life of Antonello 
daMessina, 201-14 ; mentioned, 216. 


Yak Etcx, 219-68 ; mentioned, ^22 ; 
on Baldovinetti*s attempts, 223, 
234 ; on " vemice liquida,'* 226 ; men- 
tioned, 227, 266, 268, 260, 261, 262, 
263, 264, 277, 309, 377 ; on picture 
by Caroto, 383 ; on grounds, 385 ; 
on Lorenso di CreoQ's habits of 
nicety, 399 ; on Aspertini, 403 ; on 
advantages of oil painting, 410 ; 
mentioned, 462 ; anecdote of Titian, 
613 ; ii. 2, 6, 10, 16, 26 ; on hatch- 
ing, 64; on Yan Eyck's varnish, 

67 ; his belief that oil pictures are 
spared by the lightning, 61 note 
description of wall paintinff, 68 
on picture by Lorenzo di Credi, 83 . 
on nabits of same, 84 ; on Leonardo, 
106 ; on Peruginoand Francia, 161 
gives, first place to Raphael, 171 
had Fra Butolommeo's lay figure, 

Yasco, Gran, i. 218 

Yecelljo, Cesare, coetumesotf i. 10 note 

Yenenum, i. 4 

Yehicles, i. 369 

Ybhiclb fob shadows, ii. 342>9 

Yenetian ladies' receipt for golden 
hahr, i. 9 note ; Yenetian MS. ia 
British Museum, 90 ; preferred doth 
to wood, 99, 106; spreading yellow^ 

Ybnbtiav mbthoim, ii. 272-96 

Ybkbtiak pbocbss, ii. 367-8 

Yeneriano, Antonio, quitted painting 
for medicine, i. 27 

Yenesiano, Domenioo, ii. 2, 28, 26 

»'Yepddevessie,"i. 468 

Yerdigris, i. 44, 71; common as 
dryer, 77, 78, 87 ; origin of word 
rvert de Gr^), 118, 452, 467; 
aistilled, 458 ; F^heco on, Leonardo 
da Yinci on, 87 and 468, 460 ; effect 
of moisture on, 668 ; ii. 41 

Yermiculus, old term for vermilion, i. 

Yermilion, i. 116; origin of word, 
118; the better for l^ing ground, 
419, 424; Field's extract of, 427; 
use of, 448-9 and note\ enormous 
price of, 450, 488. See Receipt 89 

Yemice, synonym for sandarac resin, i. 
237 ; ii. 27 ; d' ambra, 28 ; ''giossa," 
28, 29 note\ "commune," 28; 
"chiara," 29, 158, 160, 161, 163 

Yemice liquida, i. 223 ; term met 
with in all early treatises on paint- 
ing, 225, 228 ; OTdinary term for var- 
nish used for tempera pictures, 220 ; 
enquiry into nature of, 230 ; men- 
tioned, 240 ; mentioned, 246 ; with 
or without concrete turpentine, 261 ; 
composed of 3 parts linseed oil and 
1 part sandarac, 253 ; ii. 26 ; common^ 
and "gentile," 263 ; ii. 28 ; addition of 
mastic to, rare, i. 264 ; synonym for 
ordinary sandarac varnish, 264 ; re- 
mains of, seen on early Florentine 




pictures, 255 ; spoken of by Vaflari, 
259-62 ; applied to tempera pictures, 
271 ; strongest of all vehicles, 274 ; 
still used in seventeenth centnry by 
cabinet-makers, 507 ; ii. 26-7, 28, 
80, 40, 41; cracks of, 42, 46; made 
by present English manufSeicturers, 
60, 51, 58, 74, 144, 145, 158, 176; 
abounds in darks of Correggio's 
works, 230, 239, 240, 828, 343. See 
Receipts 37, 38 

" Vemisium album," i. 247 

"Vemisium rubrum," term for san- 
darac resin, ii. 28 

" Vemition," a gluten, i. 39 

Vemix, or Vemisium (dr^ sandarac 
resin), i. 51 ; word applied both to 
amber and sandarac, 236, 246, 256 ; 
mentioned, 508 ; Germana, 302 

Vemix d'ambre de Venise, ii, 29 note; 
Germanoram, 108 

Verocchio, Andrea, his three great 
scholars, ii. 78-9 ; said to be one of 
first who took casts from nature, 79 

Veronese, Paul, i. 528 ; ii. 278, 295, 
370, 406 

Veronica, Verenice, Veronice, or Bere- 
nice, designations for amber, i. 230 

Villa Nova, Amaldus de, i. 296 

Villeneuve, King Bend's picture at, i. 

Vinci, Leonardo da, i. 12 ; on nut oil, 
22 ; on verdi^s, 87, 99, 260, 381 ; 
unfinished picture at Milan, 392 ; 
on protection of colours, 468; 
used nut oil varnish only, 623 ; ii. 
78 ; knowledge of figure and skill 
in modelling, 80 ; assisted Verocchio 
in altar-piece, 78, 86 ; eagerly 
adopted the new art of oil paintine, 
81 ; distilled oils, 85 ; few certain 
early works, 86 ; Medusa head, in the 
UfBl^', 86; portrait of sel^ 87; 
unfinished picture of Adoration of 
Magi, 87, 165, 190; St Jerome, 
88 ; studies of heads in chiaroscuro, 
89 ; deviated from Flemish method 
in preparations, 89 ; aimed at mo- 
delDng, 89 ; so-called " Monaca " in 
Pitti not his, 90; Last Supper at 
Mihin, 90 ; " La Belle Fenonni^re," 
St. John, and Bacchus, in Louvre, 
91 ; " Vierge auz Balances," not by 
him, 91 ; '* Vierge aux Bochers,'* 91, 
118; Two Angels in Casa Melxi, 


91 ; portraits, and Head of St John 
in .Ajnbrosian Library, 91 ; Holy 
Family, Gatton Fiark, 91, 118; 
Holy Family in Hermita^, Virgin 
and Child and Lamb in Brera, 
unfinished, by scholar, 91 ; Battle 
of Anghiaira, or Battle of the Stan- 
dard, 92; "Mona Lisa," 92; Young 
Man's Head, Vienna, 92; cartoon 
in Royal Academy, 92; fresco in 
S. Onofrio, Rome, 92; "Modesty 
and Vanity,*' in Sciarra Palace, by 
Luini, 93; Madonna on lap of 
St Anna, and ** La Colombine," in 
Louvre, 93; averse to methods of 
decision and despatch, 94 ; his fas- 
tidious habits, 94-5; cotemporaiy 
account of his mode of working at 
the Last Supper, 95-6; "Mona 
Lisa" the labour of four years, 
96, 104; solidity of his work as 
distinguished from Flemish process, 
96 ; his dread of oil, and preference 
of nut oil, 97; his purplish pre- 
paration, 98; care about purity cf 
oil, 99 ; used spike oil, 100 ; anec- 
dote of his distilling oils and herbs, 
100 ; appearance of surface in his 
pictures, 102; his process, 103; 
*'sfumato," 104; his preparations 
too perfect^ 104; fine feeling for 
light and shade, 105 ; had his dark 
and light oil varnish, 108; extra- 
ordinary experiments, 109-10; force 
of his shadows, 111; flesh tints 
solid. 111 ; greens and blues not 
raised, 111 ; his deviations not 
always improvements, 111; averse 
to put his pictures in sun, 112; 
his paintings on wall ill calculated 
for durability, 113; wall of Last 
Supper insufficiently prepared, 114; 
Last Supper not protected with oil 
varnishes, 115; epitaph on, 117; 
he was the founder of Italian pro- 
cess of oil painting, 121 ; greater 
impasto in his works, 122 ; five 
characteristics of his process, 123-4 ; 
his defects, 124, 165 ; first stage of 
Italian process reduced to system by 
Leonarao, 258 ; remark on blneness 
of distant objects, 263 and 276, 322, 
334, 355-6 

Vine-stalks, carbonised, i. 467 

"Vinets" (foliage), i. 119 

VOL, n. 

F F 





Viride GnBeam (Terdigrifl), i. 118 
Vinis, gemeineTi ii. 28 note 
Vitriol, I. 462 
** Viniis glas," eqmTalent to sandaxac 

or amber, i. 381 
1/ VitaruTiiu, i. 161 noU, 162, 178 n&U 
Vlierie, Peter, Van Maadnr's fleoond 

master, i. 612 
Volpato, Giambattiflta, ii. 29 note 
Von Efidienbach, Wot&am, a poet of 
tiiirteenth oentiii7, i. 82 note 

Waagen, Dr^ on Hnbett and John 
Van %ck, i. 418 note; ii. 11, 195 

WaU painting, described by Vaaari, i 

Wabk oxsnma axd sKkoom, ii 

Wabic shadows, ii. 883-4 

Water-colonr painting on doth, i. 98, 
99, 100, 135 

Wax painting, a kind of, still practised 
by monks of Mount Athos, i. 3 
note; mentioned, 85, 45, 47 note. 
Wax PAnrnvo dubxno thb povb- 
morTH CaMTtTftT, 1 49-75 ; inherited 
from ancients, 149 ; word encaustic 
long appropriated to this method, 
149 (»ee ilncaustic); two kinds 
mentioned by Pliny, 151; instru- 
ments and implements used, 152^ ; 
ancient modes of bleaching, 165 ; 
modem modes, 156 ; ancient modes 
of solution, 152-72; ceased to be 
used by Tuscan painters soon after 
middle of fourteenth century, 163 ; 
revival of art by Montabert, i. 164, 
272 note; mixture of resin with, used 
by ancients to render s url heee water- 
proof, 164; used for ships, 164, 
M6; paintinff on wax became a 
refined art, 1. 168^; wax vehicle 
used, 170-1 ; wax varnish used by 
Greeks for statues, 172; its gloss, 
178; wax paintinff of ancients more 
force, depth, and gradation than 
enstomazy tempera, 174 ; wax 

adopted by Reynolds, 588-44, 545; 
immixture of, to correct flowing ii. 
54-6. See Receipts 32, 83, 85 

Westminster Abbey, Paiinted Cham- 
ber, i. 50-8 ; Queen's Chamber, 50 ; 
Bxmth!BAnHguUie8qf, 49, 77 ; Chap- 
ter House, 123; early woik, south 
ambulatoty in, 116; another in St. 
Edward's Uha^],l 77 ; wall paantiiigs 
in, 1 78 ; desoiption of subjeeta, 1 80 

Weld, i. 441 

White, explanation of; i. 437 

Wilkie, Preaching of John Knox, ii. 
40 ; again, 56 note ; on Oorreftgio's 
frescoes, 219-20; on '*Had^na 
deDa Scodella," 242 ; on the St Je- 
rome, 244-6 ; on "La Notte," 247 ; 
on iCagdalen Reading, 248-^, 852 

Wilson, Mr. Andrew, i. 857 note 

Wilson, painter, ii. 387 

Wine, used with colours, i. 48, 44 ; a 
vehide for light colours, 109, 110; 
red wine fbr violet colour, 110 

Windsor, Mr., i. 485 note 

Wrinkled surface, cause of, i. 87 

Wood, preparation of surface, i. 35 ; 
warping of, how guarded against, 

Wood-ashes, i. 346. See Receipt 72 

Yellow, Naples, imured by grinding, 
i. 420 ; exphutation of, 488 

Yellow lake, numerous colouis under 
that head, 440, 441 ; Vandyek'a 
treatment of; 534 ; if not protected, 
disappear, ii. 41 

"Yeso^ gesso, i. 886 

Ymagines, term, how used, i. 54 

Yolk of egg, diief ing^ient of 
tempera, i. 52, 101; antiquity of 
use, 101, 270 

Zanetti,ii. 14, 195, 197 ; ii. 144 noU, 

197,834,859,361, U7 note 
Zealand madder, cultivation of, i. 451 
** Zopissa," compound of resin and 
wax, i. 164, 167 and note 

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Materials for a history of oil 

DATE pAintlng • l««UCO TO 

02 CS :9 



}"> r :^ , 

C7 f. t>^